For nearly 20 years now, 9/11 has been a day of remembrance.
The terrorist acts that leveled the twin towers in New York City, damaged the Pentagon, and crashed a plane into a field in Pennsylvania, are part of the history that has shaped the United States, and the world, in the 21st century.
Every year on this date, the tragedies of that day are remembered and shared anew, alongside the many tales of heroism shown by first-responders, the passengers of United flight 93, and countless others. Every single American was affected in some way, especially those who were in New York when the planes attacked.
One such celebrity was a well-known Hollywood star, Steve Buscemi. A beloved character actor best known for his roles in various Coen Brothers films, Reservoir Dogs, and The Sopranos, Buscemi was actually a firefighter with Engine 55 in Little Italy in the 80s, from 1980 to 1984, before his acting ship came in.
On September 11th, 2001, more than a decade after he’d left the firehouse for a Hollywood career, Buscemi was in his home in Brooklyn. The next day, after the towers had fallen, the actor returned to his old firehouse and immediately suited up and began helping at Ground Zero.
He refused photos or interviews, and few people outside of the firehouse even knew he’d been there until 2013, when a Facebook page called The Brotherhood of Fire shared the story, writing:
“On September 12, 2001 and for several days following Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors.”
Actor Steve Buscemi was a New York City Firefighter before making it big as a movie actor! When 9/11 happened, Buscemi paused his acting career to go volunteer with his firefighter brothers working at ground zero! A true patriot like the great people we remember today! 🙏 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/4fuZXTd92e
— Shawnasaurus Rex (@ShawnG927) September 11, 2020
Steve Buscemi returned to being a Fireman after 9/11 working 12 hour shifts. He refused interviews or pictures. Legend! pic.twitter.com/QP83bofa
— The Lake Poets (@TheLakePoets) September 28, 2011
Buscemi has never spoken much about it, not seeing himself as a hero, instead humbly preferring to stay out of the spotlight, as he does in this interview at a charity event a few years ago.
In the midst of insane posturing like Mark Wahlberg’s infamous interview when he boasted that he would have saved the day if he’d been on one the planes, as he purportedly was meant to be, Buscemi’s silent service stands out. He made no big show and avoided taking any credit. He merely suited up and went down to help.
The famous Mr. Rogers quote tells people to “look for the helpers” during dark times. Steve Buscemi was the kind of person Mr. Rogers was talking about.