Tunnel to Towers NYC 5K: Runners, supporters share lessons of patriotism at 9/11 memorial event

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National pride was as alive as ever in New York City following the kickoff of the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K race on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Runners, supporters and volunteers alike came together for the day for the greater cause of remembering the heroes lost on 9/11 and honoring those who serve our communities day in and day out. 

Attendees shared with Fox News Digital that events like these promote often-lost feelings of patriotism and unity.

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Army veteran Earl Granville, who lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan in 2008, ran the race while holding an American flag on his back.

Army veteran Earl Granville is shown holding the American flag after running the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Army veteran Earl Granville is shown holding the American flag after running the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

He shared the importance of remembering that 9/11 first responders were the first casualties of the War on Terror — and that they “paved the way” for modern-day military culture.

The veteran-turned-public speaker explained that the 5K puts national unification back into perspective. He called for Americans to set aside their differences and find a way to be more unified.

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“We’re coming together, but we should always be together,” he said. 

“Let’s keep that going. We don’t need a tragedy to come together.”

Army veteran Earl Granville carries an American flag in front of the 9/11 memorial pools after completing the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K race in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. "We're coming together, but we should always be together," he told Fox News Digital. 

Army veteran Earl Granville carries an American flag in front of the 9/11 memorial pools after completing the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K race in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. “We’re coming together, but we should always be together,” he told Fox News Digital. 
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

“We are a melting pot with different beliefs and different ideas and different cultures, and so we should all still be getting along.”

Granville recalled the first responders’ instances of bravery as “pretty awesome.”

He referenced the heroic actions of 9/11 hero and firefighter Stephen Siller, who ran from Brooklyn to Ground Zero to “do the right thing.”

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“Remember why we honor them,” said Granville of America’s first responders. “Let’s put down our differences and understand that we’re a great nation.”

Fourteen-year-old Jordan Pieszchata from Hillsdale, N.J., also mentioned Siller’s heroism.

She said she took away the message to “never stop” when the going gets tough. 

Fourteen-year-old Jordan Pieszchata of Hillsdale, N.J., completed the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Fourteen-year-old Jordan Pieszchata of Hillsdale, N.J., completed the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

“I’m not the greatest runner, but I know not to stop,” she said. 

“He ran all the way to the [World Trade Center] knowing there was an attack here and didn’t stop.”

“So, what it means to me,” she added, “is doing the same thing that everybody else did.”

Other Tunnel to Towers 5K race attendees, such as Hofstra University lacrosse player Tiegue Norman, also embraced this feeling of unity among other Americans. 

Two military servicemen and a firefighter take in the 9/11 memorial pools in Manhattan on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Two military servicemen and a firefighter take in the 9/11 memorial pools in Manhattan on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

“It doesn’t matter what race you are, ethnicity — it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We just all come together for one better cause.”

Seton Hall University softball player Abby Wingo returned the sentiment.

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“No matter what you believe in, where you’re from, we all come together and do this,” she said.

Firefighters reflect at the FDNY memorial wall in Lower Manhattan following the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Firefighters reflect at the FDNY memorial wall in Lower Manhattan following the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

Wingo and her classmate, Seton Hall University baseball player John Luders, both said they felt great pride in watching firefighters participate in the run while decked out in full gear — and taking in the photos of first responders who lost their lives.

“I feel very proud,” Luders said.

“It’s just greater than yourself,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

Seton Hall University athletes John Luders and Abby Wingo spoke with Fox News Digital after completing the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Seton Hall University athletes John Luders and Abby Wingo spoke with Fox News Digital after completing the Tunnel to Towers annual 5K in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

“It makes you want to sprint the whole thing,” Wingo said. “It’s just so much bigger than anybody.”

Runner Logan Welge from St. Louis, Missouri, agreed that being cheered on by U.S. servicemembers and first responders was inspiring.

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“But they’re the ones we should be cheering for,” he said.

Tunnel to Towers 5K participants Logan Welge and Brian Spahn show off their American flag capes at the post-run party in New York City on Sept. 25, 2022.

Tunnel to Towers 5K participants Logan Welge and Brian Spahn show off their American flag capes at the post-run party in New York City on Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

Fellow runner and Chicagoan Brian Spahn chimed in, emphasizing that it’s an American duty to “keep this country strong.”

“These are things that we need,” he said. “We’ve got to stay together — one nation under God.”

Tunnel to Towers volunteer Tricia Foley said she continues to pay it forward with organizations such as Tunnel to Towers. She is the mother of an Iraq War veteran and proud American, she said.

Tunnel to Towers volunteer Tricia Foley hands out Dole fruit cups at the organization's annual 5K race in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.

Tunnel to Towers volunteer Tricia Foley hands out Dole fruit cups at the organization’s annual 5K race in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022.
(Angelica Stabile/Fox News Digital)

“We love our country,” she said. 

“We’ve got to support the people who answered the call [to serve].”

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Navy veteran Jim Leahy shared a simple patriotic message to all those involved: “God bless America.”


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