As tribute to the flight attendants and crew members killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, former flight attendant Paul “Paulie” Veneto is pushing an Airline Beverage Cart from Boston Logan Airport to Ground Zero, NYC. For much of the past week, he has been walking through Connecticut, joined for various legs of the journey by local first responders, residents, and those who cheer him on as they recall the tragedy of that day 20 years ago.
“I am doing this because I want these crew members’ families to know how courageous they were that day. 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, Veneto explained.
United Airlines Flight 175 out of Boston was a route Veneto regularly was assigned to back in 2001. On September 11, he was not among those of his colleagues assigned to that Tuesday morning flight.
“I knew that crew because we worked together and would trade our trips with each other. If I wanted a certain day off I would contact one of them and we'd trade. I was very friendly with Amy Jarret. Amy and I used to work coach class together all the time. I knew Kathryn Laborie too, she'd normally work in business class. Amy King and Michael Tarrou were a couple and they normally worked in business class together,” Veneto told Newsweek recently.
That morning, “my phone started buzzing with people calling me. My family didn't know if I was on the plane or not, because people who knew me, knew that 175 was a flight I normally worked. It was surreal, like an out of body experience. I was in shock. I felt that no matter where I was, I was alone.”
“That day sent me into a tailspin of opiate addiction that almost cost me my life. I loved working with those people. I guess it was survivor's guilt. 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.”
He had thought for sometime about the tribute walk from Boston’s Logan to Ground Zero. He began training for it awhile ago, and embarked on August 21, heading directly across Eastern and Southwestern Connecticut. The journey began with a pause at Logan Airport's 9/11 Memorial, which bears the names of those who died on the two planes that left Boston and crashed into the World Trade Center two decades ago. Paulie’s Push is sponsored by Power Forward, Inc, a 501c3 nonprofit organization registered in the State of Massachusetts.
“On top of the cart I have a photo of the United Airlines flight attendants from both planes and on the sides of the cart I have the names and details of the flights from both United Airlines flights and both American Airlines that day.”
Recent days have included a stop at the Hoppy Days Diner in Willimantic and Horsehoe Taverne in Durham, visible support from representatives of Fire Departments in towns including Pomfret, Bolton, Portland, Middletown, East Hampton, Durham, West Haven, North Haven, New Haven, North Branford, Westport, Darien, Norwalk, Stamford, among others. He visited the Middletown South Fire District’s 9/11 Memorial joined by the fire departments from Durham, Northford, and North Branford and has experiences numerous walk-alongs and even a bagpipe processional, according to the Facebook page tracking his journey.
The website for Paulie’s Push includes the names of the flight crews on United Airlines Flight 93, American Airlines Flight 77, United Airlines Flight 175, and American Airlines Flight 11 killed on September 11, 2001.
“I made a promise to myself five days after 9/11 that I would make sure that they weren't forgotten and that they were recognized for their heroism. I'm now doing what I promised myself, so that all their families and relatives can see them honored for what they accomplished that day. I'm doing what they would have done for me,” he wrote in Newsweek.
“I'm just glad that I can finally fulfill that promise. I know they're looking down. It's a privilege to be able to do this for them, it really is.”