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Mobile 9/11 memorial museum brings history to the Southern Tier

OWEGO (WBNG) — The Stephen Siller Tunnel to the Towers memorial is a tractor-trailer transformed into a museum and it holds a lot of the history of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Students from schools around the area were able to check out a piece of history in a 1,000 square-foot vehicle. The museum was stationed at Hickories Park in Owego.

"We take it to places where people do not or maybe will not have an opportunity to go to New York," said the driver and field manager of the museum, Billy Puckett.

First responders of 9/11 personally give tours in the museum, telling their own stories as well as the stories of others. 

They show the visitors artifacts such as the gear worn on that day, tools used to help people escape the rubble, and scraps of metal from the Twin Towers. 

The two first responders giving tours said they sometimes get emotional when they see the memories light up in people’s eyes.

"When we start talking, they get very emotional," said Juan Vega who used to be an EMT. "We as Americans, we could all relate to the terror that we all experienced that day."

While the museum tells a lot of stories of the terror attack, its foundation is based on one specific firefighter named Stephen Siller.

Siller’s story is that he was off duty when he heard about the attack and immediately jumped into action. 

When he found out that the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel was shut down, he picked up 60 pounds of his gear and trekked more than three miles through the tunnel to get to the towers.

Unfortunately, Siller lost his life while trying to save others. 

"The family wanted to honor Stephen and all the other fallen as well," said Puckett. "So, they started the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation."

Teachers who brought their students who were too young to remember the attacks said they find these types of museums important for education.

"It’s a great living history and it gives the kids exposure to something they may not be aware of," said Waverly High School global history teacher Jason Miller.

The mobile museum will be open to the public in Hickories Park in Owego until Sunday, May 20.

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