Well Said: A morning to reflect on the 9/11 attacks

On this week’s episode, Carolina alumnus and current Town of Chapel Hill fire chief Matt Sullivan reflects on his service in New York City following the Sept. 11th attacks.

In late September 2001, current Chapel Hill Fire Chief Matt Sullivan found himself sleeping on a cot in a fire station in Somers, New York — an hour north of Manhattan.

He was there with about 20 other police officers, firefighters and medics from around the country who were providing support to first responders at the World Trade Center.

To wind down every night after 14 hours walking around those city blocks and showing love, care and support to first responders, Sullivan wrote responses to hundreds of kids who wrote in letters to the firefighters.

“Everybody was hurting,” said Matt Sullivan, who graduated from Carolina in 1989 with a degree in political science and received a master’s degree in social work eight years later. “It wasn’t just the folks who lost somebody in law enforcement and firefighters in New York City. The whole country was hurting.”

Sullivan uses every anniversary of the attacks to ponder those who were and still are hurting. Every Sept. 11, he begins this day by climbing the steps at Kenan Stadium. Climbing 2,076 steps — the same number that were in each of the towers — honors the efforts of first responders to fight fires at the World Trade Center and rescue people there.

On this week’s podcast episode, we remember the 9/11 attacks, and Sullivan reflects on his service in New York City. He shares the lessons he learned from the first responders at the World Trade Center and how those lessons apply to his service to the Town of Chapel Hill.

This episode of Well Said can be heard in the player above, on SoundCloud, Spotify or wherever podcasts are played.

Join us every Wednesday for Well Said to hear from students, faculty, staff and alumni. Each week, you’ll learn what’s going on in classrooms, labs and around campus, and how it pertains to the local, national and international headlines.

Read a transcript of the episode.