Hundreds of miles and five weeks later Joe “Tiger” Patrick is reaching the place, where his life changed forever on Sept. 11, Ground Zero, New York City.
On Aug. 7, Patrick began a journey taking a train to Washington D.C. and then walking from the Pentagon to Shanksville Pa, and on to New York City in one month just in time to reach Ground Zero on Sept. 11. Along his trip, he travelled to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia to Shankesville, Penn., to Ground Zero in New York to honor the fallen victims of Sept. 11, 2001.
Yet, Patrick’s journey did not begin with the walk he will finish tomorrow in New York. It began 10 years ago when he moved to New York from South Kingstown in August 2001, one month before America would face one of its most heartbreaking events in history. Patrick could only think of one thing to do, help the victims and first responders all he could. 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 and appreciated them. Yet, as the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 approached, Patrick still felt like he did not do enough, and so to honor the victims he would walk from Rhode Island to New York in one month in their memory.
With 30 miles left of his journey from the George Washington Bridge tomorrow, Patrick said he is not the same man he was when he left a month ago.
“Emotionally, I know I’ll be crying. It’ll be a huge release. I had many cathartic moments on this trip. I left a lot of it on the road, but I’m a very different person from when I started,” Patrick said.
As he made his way through different communities, Patrick said thousands of people joined him, waving him on with children running by him with flags and fire trucks driving by and others giving him water and donuts.
“It’s uplifting. It’s been phenomenal,” Patrick said. “I’ve been staying at fire stations at night and meeting with first responders. The hardest part is saying good-bye to the fire fighter men and women.”
To remember the victims of Sept. 11, Patrick, along with the Elks Lodge, is selling “Honoring Our Fallen” bracelets for the Union Fire District relief fund, which can be purchased at the Union Fire’s Main Office on Asa Pond Road and the Old Mountain Lanes Bowling Alley on Kingstown Road.
For more information, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.