New York Giants defensive end George Martin, team co-captain when The Giants won Superbowl XXI in 1987, says his 9/11 story began the night before. Then working for Mutual of New York, Martin was flying home from a business trip. His seatmate was a woman coming to New York City for the first time. She pressed Martin on a must-see list. George vividly remembers telling her the Twin Towers at The World Trade Center had to make her list, along with The Statue Of Liberty.
Getting in late, Martin slept in on September 11 and was awakened by his wife, Diane, to the news that a plane had hit The World Trade Center. George turned on the tv just as the second plane flew into the South Tower. The tragedy was personal. A co-worker’s son was in the tower at the point of impact. Also, one of his sons lost a close friend, so close that George Martin often called him “my 4th son”.
Martin says as the recipient of adulation and recognition locally, playing for The New York Giants for 14 years, he always wanted to give back in kind. Several years after 9/11, George was touched by HIS heroes: the first responders who were getting ill and dying from the toxins they were exposed to at Ground Zero. The government was doing nothing to help them. Growing up in the segregated deep South, George had a lifelong desire to see the America he watched as a kid on tv. It came to him: he wanted to walk across America to not only highlight the plight of 9/11 first responders but to raise money for their health care.
Today, he remembers more from his “Journey For 9/11” than he does from his Superbowl-winning game. A true hero, George Martin raised 6 million dollars for the health care of ailing 9/11 first responders, launching a movement that ultimately led to the passage of federal bills providing for free health care for life for 9/11 victims, as well as compensation for their illnesses and deaths.