This year marks two full decades since the 9/11 terrorist attacks where almost 3,000 lives were lost.
Paul Veneto, a former flight attendant, is one of many who was affected by the tragic events of that day. He lost several of his friends and colleagues, which is why, for the past five years, he’s been planning a 200-mile walk to honor them.
To complete the arduous trek, Paul has been pushing around an airline drink cart bearing the names and faces of the crew members who were lost on the planes that day.
He began at Logan Airport’s 9/11 Memorial in Boston, the starting point of the planes that would later crash into the World Trade Center. After 20 days of walking, he’ll finally arrive at Ground Zero today!
Paul’s heartfelt journey started long before August 21 this year. Back in 2001, the flight that ended up crashing into the towers was part of his regular route. The only reason he wasn’t on board was because he had that day off.
Although he went on to work as a flight attendant for another decade, he never quite recovered from the tragedy. From the emotional damage of the attack to an addiction to opiates that were prescribed for his back pain, Paul knew something in his life had to change.
After retiring, he was able to get the help he needed. It took time and effort, but he’ll be celebrating six years of sobriety on September 11, 2021, all the while shining light on his courageous lost colleagues.
Since his journey began, he’s received an immense outpouring of support from his community and beyond. In fact, for the first part of his journey, he was accompanied by uniformed flight attendants as well as other supporters. They took a ferry and made their way together to the 9/11 Memorial in the Boston Public Gardens.
In addition to raising awareness, Paul is raising money under the name “Paulie’s Push.” All proceeds will go toward the 9/11 nonprofits started by crew members’ families along with Power Forward, a nonprofit that helps people like Paul who have struggled with addiction.
This journey hasn’t been easy, but Paul found the strength to keep going thanks to his purpose for making the trek in the first place.
“I look on top of this cart, I see these crew members’ faces, every time my legs hurt, it’s cold, rainy, they’re smiling back at me, the pain goes away,” Paul said.
The last 20 years have had their ups and downs, but through it all, Paul has shown himself that anything is possible.
“I turned my life around to be able to recognize these guys who were never recognized,” Paul said. “We all can tell this country and the world that these crew members were heroes on 9/11.”
Share this story to honor the brave crew members who lost their lives that day.
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