Steve Buscemi’s Quiet Heroism at Ground Zero

This weekend, the nation paused to remember the heroes of 9/11, including those who lost their lives and the brave men and women who assisted in the aftermath. One name that might surprise you is Steve Buscemi, the acclaimed actor who also served as a firefighter at Ground Zero. In a recent interview, Buscemi opened up about the lasting impact those days had on him and his fellow responders.

With his memorable roles in notable films like Reservoir DogsFargo, and The Big Lebowski, as well as his Golden Globe-winning performance in Boardwalk Empire, Buscemi has been a beloved figure in Hollywood for decades. However, what many don’t realize is that in the early 1980s, Buscemi worked as a firefighter with Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan while pursuing his acting career on the side.

It wasn’t until the day after 9/11 that Buscemi returned to his old fire department at Ground Zero. Donning his turnout coat, helmet, and boots, he joined his fellow firefighters to assist in the search and rescue efforts. During that week, Buscemi wasn’t a celebrity but simply one of the team, working tirelessly to find survivors and recover the remains of the lost.

Buscemi described the scene as unrecognizable and otherworldly due to the dust and debris. There was a feeling of connection among the responders, a shared understanding of the dangerous conditions they faced. In fact, someone even remarked, “This is probably going to kill us in 20 years.” Little did they know how eerily accurate that statement would be.

In the years since that fateful day, numerous first responders have been diagnosed with health issues, including deadly respiratory illnesses, linked to their work at the World Trade Center site. Buscemi reflected on the lack of awareness and support for these heroes, expressing his dismay that firefighters had to advocate for funding for the Victim Compensation Fund.

While Buscemi himself has not experienced any physical effects from his time at Ground Zero, he has suffered from PTSD. The experience took a toll on his mental well-being, causing depression, anxiety, and difficulty making even simple decisions. Seeking therapy helped him cope with the magnitude of the events he witnessed.

It’s heartbreaking to learn about the lasting effects on Buscemi’s mental health, but it only highlights his true heroism. Not only did he demonstrate bravery in the aftermath of 9/11, but he continues to advocate on behalf of the responders. Let’s not forget the struggles they still face and show our support for Steve Buscemi, a hero in every sense of the word.