When actors want to support a cause, they might appear on a charity ad, or visit the suffering with an army of cameras in tow.
But seventeen years ago today, as the world reeled from the 9/11 terror attacks, Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi instead donned a uniform he hadn’t worn in nearly two decades to help hunt for survivors.
He arrived at the fire station where he worked in the early 1980 the next day to offer his help to aid in the recovery from a tragedy that claimed 2,753 lives.
The Reservoir Dogs and Boardwalk Empire star pulled 12-hour shifts for several days alongside other emergency service personnel.
He wasn’t there for publicity, and refused all interview requests during the days he spent digging to recover bodies.
Some time later, he said of his efforts: “It was a privilege to be able to do it.
“It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside.
“And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn’t really think about it as much, feel it as much.”
Buscemi first took the FDNY civil service test when he was 18, and worked as a fireman in downtown Manhattan from 1980 to 1984 before finding fame as an actor.
In 2013, the Brotherhood Of Fire Facebook page reminded people of Steve’s selfless act of courage, writing beneath a picture of him: “Do you recognise this man? Do you know his name?
“Lots of people know he’s an actor, and that his name is Steve Buscemi. What very few people realise is that he was once one of New York’s Bravest.
“Buscemi served on one of FDNY’s busiest, Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan’s Little Italy. He later left the fire service to become a successful actor, writer and director.
“After 9/11/2001… Brother Buscemi returned to FDNY Engine 55.
“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 Centre looking for survivors.
“Very few photographs and no interviews exist because he declined them. He wasn’t there for the publicity.”
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Buscemi’s desire to help the fire department did not end there.
In 2014 he hosted a HBO show, A Good Job, to encourage others to join the force.
The show also had a message to existing firefighters – don’t be afraid to ask for help.
During the September 11 attacks 343 firefighters gave their lives protecting and rescuing others.
Steve still serves on the Board of Advisors for Friends of Firefighters, an organisation dedicated to New York firefighters and their relatives.
Meanwhile, the heartbreaking message a man on hijacked United Airlines Flight 75 left his wife on 9/11 will leave you sobbing.
And, a Brit photographer’s harrowing 9/11 photos capture the terrifying aftermath of the attack as dust-covered victims drag themselves from Twin Tower wreckage 16 years ago today.
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