Steve Buscemi Recalls Volunteering in 9/11 Missing Person Search

Looking back. On the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Steve Buscemi reflected on his experience working with New York firefighters to help locate missing residents.

The Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail star, 63, recalled the emotional day during the Thursday, September 9, episode of the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast.

Buscemi, who previously worked as a firefighter with New York’s Engine 55 company for four years before becoming an actor, wanted to find a way to help after the news of the attacks.

“I kept calling the firehouse, and of course there was no answer because I knew that they would be there [at Ground Zero],” the Boardwalk Empire alum told Marc Maron. “I still had my turnout coat and my helmet and I just grabbed those things. I was driven into the site that day. Walked around for hours and then found my company, found Engine 55 working there, and asked them if I could join them. I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, like, ‘What are you doing here?’ But I worked with them that day.”

He added, “Then I eventually learned that five of [the members of his former firehouse] were missing. One of them was a good friend of mine I used to work with.”

Buscemi further detailed his experiences in a Time essay, also published on Thursday.

“One of the strongest sensations that flooded over me on Sept. 11, 2001, was that feeling of connection,” the Portlandia alum wrote. “The next morning, I grabbed my old gear, got a lift to the site and found a place on a bucket brigade. Instead of water going up, it was rubble coming down. Once in a while, a body bag was passed, though none weighed much at all. That was disturbing. The dust? It was more of a nuisance: pulverized concrete and who-knows-what that clogged a face mask, so fast you worked better without one. Somebody’d say, ‘This is probably going to kill us in 20 years.’”

He added, “It actually felt good to be there. I was on the site for less than a week, but it wasn’t until I got home that the magnitude of it all caught up with me.”

In revisiting his 9/11 memories, the Brooklyn, New York native recalled that he did experience post-traumatic stress disorder afterward.

“I was only there for, like, five days, but when I stopped going and tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard,” Buscemi said during the podcast episode. “I was depressed. I was anxious. I couldn’t make a simple decision. All those things. It’s still with me. It’s still, you know, like, there are times when I talk about 9/11 and I feel myself and I’m just right back there. I just, I start to get choked up and I realize, ‘Ah, this is still a big part of me.’”

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