SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Ten years ago when two planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City, Joe Patrick volunteered to help the victims and first responders. Patrick stood in line for two days with steel workers, working 12 hour shifts, carrying debris from Ground Zero. He volunteered for a restaurant to bring lunch and dinner to the first responders and he attended the funerals of first responders to show their families that someone knew. Yet, Patrick did not think he did enough. Now as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, Patrick will walk to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia to Shankesville, Pennsylvania, to Ground Zero in New York to honor the befallen victims of Sept. 11, 2001.
The South Kingstown resident, who left this past Sunday for the walk, plans to walk 20 miles a day with four days rest and reach New York City on Sept. 11. Patrick has been training for the endurance feat for the past three months, walking two six mile sprints a day for a total of 18 miles.
Although Patrick’s training began just three months ago, his story began long before that.
Patrick, who was born and raised in South Kingstown had studied at Washington State College. He joined the United States Army to help pay for his education. However, when Operation Desert Storm broke out in Iraq in 1990, Patrick started his military career just before finishing Washington State.
In August 2001, Patrick had just moved to New York City. It was only a month later when two terrorist hijackers crashed their planes into the twin towers. Patrick wanted to do all he could to help.
“When it happened I reached out on Sept. 11 to a friend of mine to see what I could do,” Patrick said. “On Sept. 13, a bunch of volunteers went on a train to New York City. I didn’t have a skill but if I was needed, I would help.”
Patrick worked 12 hour shifts helping lift garbage and debris on Ground Zero. He then helped restaurants bring sandwiches over to the rescuers and also attended the funerals of the first responders.
Patrick also went to the Armory in New York, where families went to give their DNA to find and confirm the death of their loved ones, which Patrick described as a core of sadness.
“It’s something I carry with me. Every year at this time I get sad. I feel I could have done more. I want to go back to visit each site and pay homage to it,” Patrick said.
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