BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Saturday marks 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Hundreds of people across Metro Detroit took part in ceremonies Saturday to honor and remember the lives lost, but some had more personal and smaller ways to mark the 20th anniversary.
A Bloomfield Township firefighter has been running to honor each of the fallen firefighters. He finished his journey Saturday with his family cheering him on.
Andrew Altman was a sophomore in high school during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He’s now a firefighter and a father of two.
“We were impressionable teenagers when it happened and had this idea of where our life was going to go and then that day happened,” Altman recalled.
Altman ran a mile for every firefighter who died in the attack.
“They must have looked at those buildings and knew there was a good chance the buildings weren’t going to be standing there for very long and they went in anyway,” Altman said.
He ran 343 miles, averaging about four miles each day for months.
“It helped to process the events of that day,” Altman said. “They’re just absolute heroes in my eyes and I wanted to do something to live up to their legacy.”
After each run, he wrote down the names of the heroic firefighters.
“It was humbling. You can feel it in your heart and try to make a connection with those men,” Altman said.
He has been with the Bloomfield Township Fire Department since 2017.
“We take this day seriously,” Altman said. “We think all about the first responders who died. They hold a special place in our heart.”
Altman finished his last mile Saturday morning at 10:28 a.m. -- the same time the North Tower collapsed.
“Just being the wife of a firefighter, it makes you appreciate the sacrifices and think about them especially on days like today,” said Jamie Altman.
His family, friends, neighbors and pastor were there to surprise him.
“I had no idea that so many friends and would be here to support me,” Andrew Altman said. “I can’t put it into words.”