Tunnel To Towers Foundation’s “9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit” Tours America
I met up with Billy Puckett on a very wet and rainy day in late July at the Speedway Truckstop in Barkeyville, Pennsylvania. I was just coming off of a newspaper deadline and he was heading to the next leg of the Tunnel To Tower Foundation’s The 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit” Tour after having the mobile exhibit on display in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Billy Puckett, a Veteran of the U.S. Marines, has been a Professional Truck Driver for 33 years and has been hauling the mobile exhibit tour truck and trailer for the past 7 years. He has driven over 3 million miles and is certified by JJ Keller as a Driver Trainer. He drives, sets up the exhibit, gives tours, and the tears down the exhibit to haul it to the next stop on the tour. Volunteers at each stop help him with this task, including Fire Departments, Patriot Guard, Motorcycle Clubs, and High School Sports Teams. As Puckett drives down the highways, police officers will salute him by pulling up alongside the truck and flashing their lights.
Tunnel To Towers Foundation states on their website that the “The 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit” is a tribute to all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, including the 343 members of the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) who made the ultimate sacrifice, and all who continue to lose their lives to 9/11-related illnesses. This high-tech, 83-foot tractor-trailer, which transforms into an 1,100 square foot exhibit, is a tool to further educate people across the country about the events of that tragic day.
The 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit, which has traveled to nearly 50 states and Canada, has educated over 600,000 people to date. The memorial provides interactive education, including artifacts such as steel beams from the towers, documentary videos, and recordings of first responder radio transmissions. Interactive guided tours are carried out by FDNY firefighters who provide firsthand accounts of the day and its aftermath.”
The 2011 Freightliner Coronado was built by the Chrome Shop Mafia. The 2004 mobile exhibit trailer was built by SME of Mooresville, North Carolina. The first exhibit was christened on 9-11-13 at Fort Bragg.
Puckett told me that, “it’s a fun job. I love it. I get to travel all over the country. I like to think that I am making a difference in people’s lives, even if I’m not making deliveries.”
The Tunnel To Towers Foundation sets up all of the tour dates, which are usually from March to November, but this year’s dates are booked through December 17th. The Foundation anticipates the mobile exhibit touring all 12 months in 2023 and is hopeful that they can do tours in schools.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is committed to ensuring we NEVER FORGET about 9/11. Puckett told me the story about 8-year-old Zach, whose family brought him to the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania tour stop. Zach is very interested in history and after watching a documentary of 9/11, asked his family if they could see the 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit in person.
For more information on the 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit, including how to bring it to your area, please contact [email protected]