On August 21, Paul "Paulie" Veneto began a historic journey from Logan Airport in Boston to downtown Manhattan in New York City. As a retired flight attendant of 30 years, it's a trip he's taken too many times to count, but this time he's doing it on foot.
In three weeks it will be the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To commemorate the airline personnel that lost their lives on that tragic day, Veneto is pushing a bar cart 200 miles from the 9/11 memorial at Logan Airport to the Ground Zero monument in Manhattan. His journey is appropriately named "Paulie's Push."
Veneto is walking 10 to 20 miles a day and hopes to reach Ground Zero on September 11.
At the time of the attacks, Veneto worked for United Airlines and was routinely on Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, the flight that was rerouted by terrorists into the World Trade Center.
Veneto had the day off on September 11, 2001 and has had to live through the guilt of being a survivor.
"That day sent me into a tailspin of opiate addiction that almost cost me my life," he wrote on his website where he documents his journey. "After almost 15 years of numbing myself out from the thoughts of that day, I have finally been freed from addiction since 2015. I can now finally give tribute to my fallen crew members."
Veneto hopes that his journey will bring attention to the sacrifice the crew members made on a day that will never be forgotten.
"I am doing this because I want these crew members' families to know how courageous they were that day," he wrote. "I want the public to understand that under those conditions that morning, what those crew members did, nobody could have trained for. They really need to be recognized as Heroes. They were the very first First Responders."
On the top of the bar cart, he has the photos of his fellow attendants on Flight 175. He says he won't have any problem finding inspiration during his long push. All he needs to do is take a look at their pictures.
"I look at their faces smiling back at me," Veneto said.
September 11 is a day of pain for Veneto but also a reason to celebrate. On September 11 he will celebrate his sixth year of sobriety. "I turned my life around to be able to recognize these guys who were never recognized," Veneto said. "We all can tell this country and the world that these crew members were heroes on 9/11."
Paulie's Push will benefit the families of his former colleagues as well as Forward 25, a nonprofit that assists people dealing with addiction.
Donations can be made at the Paulie's Push website and checks can be sent to Paulie's Push, in care of First Republic Bank, 160 Federal St., 8th floor, Boston, MA 02110. Attention: Cam Clifford.
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