A former flight attendant has set out to honor the memories of fallen flight attendants who fell victim to the 9/11 terrorist attack by embarking on a journey from Boston to Ground Zero.
Paul Veneto, a retired flight attendant, is on a mission to honor his fallen comrades in the most remarkable way twenty years after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The Braintree resident has decided to put his years of experience in serving airlines to making his mission a success. Hence, he embarked on a journey to push a drink cart across different cities, all the way to Ground Zero in New York.
Man pushing a drink cart across the road | Photo: youtube.com/WPRI
The trek, which commenced in Boston on August 21, would see the 62-year-old sweat it out as he journeys through at least eight cities in the coming weeks before reaching his destination on September 11.
Speaking on the significance of his journey, the retired flight attendant noted that the journey, termed "Paulie's Push," was an avenue to recognize the sacrifices of crew members who died in the struggle after their flights got hijacked.
He explained: "It was hand-to-hand combat. They were the first responders. They were heroes. They were absolute heroes." Veneto also recalled narrowly escaping falling victim to the devastating ordeal due to a twist of fate. According to him, he was assigned to Flight 175, as per his regular schedule.
Photo of a US flag on a 9/11 memorial headstone | Photo: Pexels
However, a night before the terrorist attack, which took place on September 11, 2001, the airline schedule for the Boston-based crew was rotated, fixing the historical date as his day off.
The man was spending his day off building a concrete wall for a friend on Quincy's Hospital Hill when he heard about the first crash. He watched the second crash on TV, which was the fall of Flight 175, although he never guessed it at the time.
Aboard the plane were Kathryn Laborie, the plane purser, Amy Jarret, Veneto's partner, Alfred Marshall, a retired police officer-turned-flight attendant, and lovebirds Amy King and Michael Tarrou, who were engaged, among other victims.
Everyone aboard died in the crash. Veneto spoke fondly of his fallen crew members who he had become so fond of, they could easily have passed for family. He shared: "They were such great people. I loved working with them. I loved that career."
Admittedly, their deaths stirred in him a feeling of anger which he harbored towards the perpetrators. However, his initial shock was replaced by a need to take revenge despite knowing there was nothing he could do.
Soon, he spiraled into a disturbing drug habit, becoming addicted to the prescription opiates meant for his back pain. Thankfully, he successfully broke free from the deadly habit after over a decade of indulging.
A white rose on a 911 memorilal headstone | Photo: Pexels
Veneto, who retired as a flight attendant on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, found a new outlook on life following his decision to to become sober rather than die in his addiction.
His need to do something remarkable for his fallen colleagues after years of spiraling informed his decision to embark on Pauline's Push.
He began training for the approximately 220-mile walk in October, pushing the cart through Braintree, his hometown, and Quincy. The 16-mile-per-day walk made the 62-year-old lose roughly 60 pounds.
Confident he was finally prepared, Veneto embarked on the honorary road trip, tirelessly pushing the beverage cart to Ground Zero. To him, his efforts are only a fraction of what the flight attendants experienced.
He explained: "It's nothing to push this to New York compared to what they did. That thing will end up in New York if I have to carry it on my back. I know they would have done the same for me."
As the world gears up to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, symbolic acts like Veneto's would go a long way in helping people understand the plight of the fallen heroes and why they need to be celebrated.
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