9/11 memorial exhibit makes its way to Southport for firefighters competition

9/11 memorial exhibit makes its way to Southport for firefighters competition

SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) - Dozens of first responders from Southeastern North Carolina escorted the Steven Siller 9/11 Memorial into Southport Friday.

The mobile exhibit is a tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department who made the ultimate sacrifice.

At the Winnabow Fire Department on Friday, firefighters from surrounding areas escorted the memorial to Southport.

"It's very important to remember the 343 first responders that perished in the terrorist attack," Southport Fire Chief Charles Drew said. "In the fire service, we have such a brotherhood and a tradition. We'll never forget them and it's always important to keep reminding people of the dangers for the fire service and the first responders."

The memorial will be in front of the old Southport Fire Department on Saturday and Sunday, complementing the 35th annual firefighters' competition being held this weekend.

Southport Fire Department raised the money necessary to bring the exhibit to the area after seeing it at a convention last year.

The high-tech, 53-foot tractor-trailer, which transforms into a 1,000 square foot exhibit, is a tool to educate people about the events of that tragic day.

Tour Manager Billy Puckett says it is important to let people know about the sacrifices FDNY made and is still making.

"Right now, we've lost 180 additional firefighters since 9/11," Puckett said. "They're sick and it hasn't stopped. It's still going."

The Stephen Siller Foundation was created to honor Siller, a New York firefighter who was assigned to Brooklyn's Squad 1 on Sept. 11, 2001.

Siller had finished a shift that morning and was on his way to play golf with his brothers. When he heard the news of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, he returned to Squad 1 to get his gear and drove toward buildings.

Despite being unable to enter a tunnel to get to the towers, Siller was determined to help. He strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.

The foundation donates 94 cents of every dollar raised to help first responders and their families.

The exhibit is free to the public and open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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