SEIAD VALLEY, Calif. – A Northern California man whose brother died in the terrorist attacks is taking a new approach to the anniversary.
As the town of Seiad Valley marks the 11th year anniversary of 9/11, a retired New York City Firefighter is reflecting on his connection to that day. For 11 years, Ralph Geidel has shared his story with his neighbors in Seiad Valley, explaining how he spent months digging through the rubble of the World Trade Center, searching for his firefighter brother Gary, who died while saving people from the Twin Towers.
Geidel says this year is different. After taking a motorcycle trip to New York on the anniversary last year, Geidel says he’s focused less on mourning his brother and more on celebrating his memory. At this year’s ceremony, Geidel invited local firefighters and police officers to take part. Geidel says he wants the day to be about teaching the community the value of working together.
“I was doing everything,” Geidel said. “I was trying to raise the flag, ring the bell. And then I thought, you know what, it’s not all mine, it’s not all about me and my family, so I wanted to get everybody involved.”
Geidel developed throat cancer after working for months at Ground Zero and on this anniversary, he got news: 50 cancers will now be covered by the multi-billion dollar relief fund for people exposed to the dust and fumes of the Trade Center collapse. Geidel says he will soon find out what benefits he will be able to receive.