An Orlando resident reflects on his father’s actions on 9/11
Timothy Miller is a new Orlando resident who opens a medical clinic in Avalon Park and lives with his wife and two children in Lake Nona. His father was always a role model, and after the 9/11 attacks, he became a hero to him and the thousands affected by 9/11. His father, Richard Miller, was a police officer and rescue worker. In the aftermath of the attacks, Timothy’s father is called to the rescue effort at Ground Zero.
Tim recalls that Richard was on vacation, but “when everything crashed, he got in the car and was gone.” They briefly heard from him that he had arrived, that the towers had collapsed and the communication equipment was failing. Tim said they heard about him intermittently, but he hasn’t seen his father physically for three months.
Richard slept in bunkers between rescue shifts and worked tirelessly for weeks trying to save every possible life. Thinking back, Tim is still proud of his father’s actions in the wake of the horrific attacks. “There is a certain strain that drives you into that, selfless and someone willing to put harm in their way to keep harm out of others,” he said. “My father had this instinct all along. He shared this mindset with all of his colleagues.”
At the time of the attack, Tim was still a teenager but remembers that he has matured quickly. “I never realized he could die in any shift until that day, which all first responders face is that it can happen every day at any moment,” Tim said. “It made me value the relationship more.”
In June of 2006, Timothy’s father was diagnosed with kidney, liver, and lung cancer, which doctors believe was due to his efforts to scratch. “It definitely changed everything, not for the worse or the better,” Tim thought of his father’s actions. “He has looked at life differently, understanding how quickly things can change, and how important it is to try to enjoy the moment.”
Unfortunately, Richard passed away on February 8, 2010.
“With everything going on with his diagnosis and his deteriorating health, he has never regretted anything and that still sticks in my mind,” Tim said. “Knowing that his life is going to end soon because of what he didn’t change the way he acted or felt. It’s definitely something I will pass on to my family. It took me a while to process that thought. It’s how he felt through it all and gives me hope for the future.”
Tim hoped to emulate and honor his father by pursuing a career that would allow him to help those in need. His mother, Eileen, was an emergency room nurse for decades and other members of his family worked as firefighters and teachers. There was a strong desire to give back to others. Timothy was accepted into Johns Hopkins University for his undergraduate studies and plans to pursue a career in medicine. However, the cost associated with this education opportunity was enormous, and with the loss of his father, it did not appear to be a realistic possibility.
But then Timothy was told about the Families of Freedom Fund, a fund founded by former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, to help children killed or severely injured in the September 11, 2001 attacks or rescue efforts in days later. Thanks to the generosity and support of this fund, Timothy was able to continue studying medicine as he wished and became a doctor.
“It was my dream but it carried a hefty bill with it,” Tim said. “Financially, I knew it wasn’t possible, but the Families of Liberty Fund gave me the opportunity to pursue that education and get to where I am now. If not, there would be no way I could do that.”
20 years after the 9/11 attacks, families and Americans are still feeling the effects everywhere. “I can’t even believe it’s been 20 years,” Tim said. “I think about my dad all the time and I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by. You still see people who have been affected by it and we have these chats and groups that control each other. I had a patient who was directly affected by 9/11, and it affects people all over the world. across the country, and talks about how it shaped the way we are. 20 years ago, as it seems like a drop in the sea, having those shared memories and experiences keeps these people’s lives with us.”
“What my dad did, was a testament to the person he still is, we keep him alive with our little boys, tell stories and show pictures to my kids and my family. He was a really great guy and a really nice guy, I wish he knew more.”
Tim also thinks about the importance of supporting everyone affected. “It’s so easy to feel lonely and isolated because 20 years have passed,” he said. “It’s only in the mainstream when the anniversary comes. You’re not alone. There are people who care about them and can help them with their grief. My mom grieves on a daily basis and cries every day for my dad. Sometimes people don’t know where to turn, but there are still people They are affected by it and we are not alone, we can get through it.”
Tim’s message is clear to families who lost loved ones on or after 9/11. “They are heroes. If we look to the future and beyond, if we can do for others and be in a position where we can help someone else have a better life or a better situation, that will help this world.” “There is hope that if we can unite again like they did after 9/11, things will be much better.”