NEW YORK — Tim Brown came close to death not once, but several times while responding to the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, on the 20th anniversary, he is helping build the September 11 National Memorial Trail, connecting the three crash sites.
"I cannot believe it’s been 20 years. I look back on my last 20 personally and I hope that my friends, my hero friends, would be proud of what I’ve done," said Brown.
Twenty years ago, Tim Brown was working as a New York City firefighter in Mayor Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management.
"Our office was 7 World Trade Center so the first plane flew over the roof of our building and slammed into the North Tower," said Brown.
When the second plane hit, Brown was sent to the south tower to help.
"We heard the first piece of steel snap and it was extremely loud. It was so loud that it echoed through the canyons of lower Manhattan and so loud that it was very clear what was happening. We didn’t have to look up, we knew the building was collapsing," said Brown. "We are trained as firefighters that you can never run a building collapse. It always catches you and kills you. You have to take cover immediately."
"You couldn’t breathe. I was trying to stick my face down in my shirt and I was trying to and I was crawling trying to find a vertical column," said Brown. "The wind was trying to blow me out into the street. My legs were up in the air, my helmet blew off my head and I just waited to get crushed."
Brown said he lost nearly 100 friends and co-workers that day.
"I believe that God spared my life because he wanted me to be here 20 years later to tell the stories, the stories of the heroes, the story of the horrors and to be a part of these memorials, this museum and charities that all live into the mantra to never forget," said Brown. "Because we are 20 years later, this is officially history and through these four memorials, including the trail, we are going to be able to teach future generations of kids."
"History is defined as after 20 years. After 20 years, something is history so when I hear that, and looking forward I want the children to hear what it was like for us who were there and to never forget the names of the heroes, the firefighters, police officers and others," said Brown.
The September 11 National Memorial Trail, honors the men and women who lost their lives that day. The 1,300-mile trail goes through six states and the District of Columbia. The trail is a partnership between the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, National Park Service, as well as state and local governments.
"Get out there on the trail, remember all these people, the reason it happened, and all the goodness and the sacrifice and the bravery and courage that was demonstrated by Americans," said Brown.