America Rebuilds II: Return to Ground Zero . Lee Ielpi | PBS
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America Rebuilds II: Return to Ground Zero
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Lee Ielpi

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Lee Ielpi
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Lee Ielpi

Profile of Lee Ielpi

Lee Ielpi, a retired New York City firefighter, arrived at the World Trade Center within a half hour of the second collapse and contributed to efforts at Ground Zero until midnight. His 29-year-old firefighter son, Jonathan, was on duty that morning, but did not escape the south tower before its collapse. After 9/11, Ielpi returned to Ground Zero daily to assist with rescue and recovery operations. Three months after the attack, on December 11, 2001, Ielpi helped to carry his son's body out of the rubble of the twin towers.

Ielpi is now vice president of the September 11th Families' Association, which has established the Tribute Center. Created to provide information to the many visitors who flock to Ground Zero, the Tribute Center offers guided walking tours and plans to open the first visitors' center near the site of the attacks. The tours connect visitors with guides who were personally affected. Ielpi said leading these tours gives him an opportunity to speak about his son every day.

This event is living history....We have to remember what happened that day and that it happened on our soil. As soon as we forget it, as soon as we become complacent, which we are already, we're in trouble. — Lee Ielpi


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Image credits: Great Projects Film Company | Published on: August 28, 2006