700-plus West Point cadets and staff run in Tunnel to Towers event
October 2, 2009
Getting up before dawn to go for a run is not something that is uncommon to anyone that has served or been around the military for any significant amount of time. Running is something that servicemembers just do, either for training or personal enjoyment.
However, this past Sunday morning was for neither training nor personal enjoyment, it was to show support to a cause for a man that gave his life trying to save others. Stephen Siller, an off-duty firefighter with Squad 1 Brooklyn, ran from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center on that historic Tuesday morning that surely will never be forgotten by any American.
Siller, along with 2,751 other people, lost their lives in New York during the horrific tragedy. Yet, from the clouds of sorrow, a shining light has risen in his memory.
In its eighth annual running, more than 20,000 people from England to Hawaii met on the corner of Richards and Dwight Street in Brooklyn.
Among the crowd were approximately 700 cadets from the U.S. Military Academy who ran among the masses of Wounded Warriors, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and the general public.
Cadets have been part of the event for a number of years, starting with some of the members of Company F-3. This year, however, the entire corps rallied for the event, with members from each company joining the many other groups running.
"This is a really good cause, to show support for the fire fighters that gave their lives on Sept. 11 (2001)," Plebe Brian Gerardi said. "To see the corps get behind this cause is truly amazing"
As the rain poured down throughout the city, Ed Hannon, Siller's brother-in-law, stood among the crowd and asked the crowd to join him in reciting the St. Francis Peace Prayer before the start of the race.
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen," Hannon recited.
Then, one by one, 6,281 registered runners moved into place along Coffee Park. Fire truck sirens were heard throughout the neighborhood announcing the start of the race.
People from all over the five boroughs lined the streets to cheer on the runners as they made their way toward the tunnel.
As the cadets entered the tunnel, all anyone could hear was the cadence of cadets' running in unison echoing from Brooklyn to the streets of Manhattan.
One firefighter, who was holding the banner of a fallen firefighter on the site of a Sea of Gideon, began bellowing, "USA, USA, USA." At that moment, the more than 350 firefighters lining the streets outside of the tunnel all joined in, chanting as one.
Over the 3.1-mile course, people lined the rain-drenched streets to cheer on the runners and walkers who came out for this great event.
With Dustin Emrani coming in at 16 minutes, 8 seconds to the last of the 6,281 people crossing the line nearly an hour and 30 minutes later, the underlying purpose of the day was to complete the course in support of the Stephen Siller, FDNY "Let Us Do Good" Children's Foundation.