LANCASTER, Ky. (LEX 18) — Saturday marks a grim day in American history. It is the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
2,996 people were killed in the attack.
New York City firefighter Thomas Kuveikis was among them.
“He was supposed to be on vacation that day,” said his daughter Kristen. “I didn’t think it was possible that he could be there and that he was gone.”
Thomas J. Kuveikis was 48 years old when he passed away. He worked as a firefighter in New York City for 24 years and was a member of the FDNY Squad 252 for five years.
Sept. 11 is a painful anniversary for Kristen Kuveikis, but she said she’s proud of what her dad did when he ran into the collapsing World Trade Center.
“He represents a true hero. The definition is my dad,” she said. “It still seems unreal, but one thing about him I’ve heard from everybody is he would have never come out of that building without everyone out of that building. Every single person. He was always the last one out. He saved many people that day. I know he did.”
That is the memory she holds closely, especially when she participates in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
“The first time I ever did it, I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. I know he helped me through it,” she recalled.
Kuveikis’ 12-year-old son, Aiden, climbed with her this year.
She said the biggest wish she has is that her father had been able to meet his grandson.
“I know he would have been the best grandpa,” she said.
Thomas Kuveikis didn’t get that chance, but Aiden knows exactly what kind of hero his grandfather is.
“We received a helmet yesterday from one of the firemen in Lexington that they made custom for me. And my son was taking a picture of it last night so he could show his friends. I know he’s proud,” Kuveikis said.
It’s clear Aiden will carry his grandfather’s memory with him forever, the same way his mom does.