John Seelie, 94, designed a pin to commemorate the day.

ENGLEWOOD — Pearl Harbor survivor John Seelie will travel to New York City on Tuesday and take part in a whirlwind schedule of activities that includes appearances at a variety of functions during Fleet Week, as well as his main objective — to pay his respects at the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.

The 94-year-old Seelie, the last survivor of the 25th Infantry Division that was assigned to Schofield Barracks at Wheeler Field, will pay his respects in a short, private ceremony at about 10 a.m. Thursday. He had planned to do this on May 15, but organizers connected with Fleet Week urged his friend Mike Cahill to move the trip to coincide with that.

“It affected me,” Seelie said of the terrorist attacks. “It really affected our whole country; I’ve always felt bad about it.”

Though not an artist, in 2001 Seelie designed a pin to commemorate the day. The pin features the words “God bless America,” “Out of this twisted steel and smoldering ashes America rises,” and “Sept. 11, 2001,” superimposed over a photo of first responders raising the American Flag over the rubble at the World Trade Center.

He gave away all but one of those pins. He wears the remaining one affixed to his Pearl Harbor Survivor hat, a symbolic link between two tragedies — one military and one civilian.

Another run of about 100 pins have been made, and Seelie plans to give them away on his trip.

Once Seelie pays his respects, he will be the only known Pearl Harbor survivor to visit Ground Zero — a tangible link between the two events.

How it came together

The trip to New York grew out of a discussion between Seelie and Cahill after Seelie's return from the 75th annual commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Cahill, a retired Ohio developer, helped organize a Veterans Day tribute to Seelie at the Chalk Festival and spearheaded drives to help pay for Seelie’s travel to Hawaii, funded partly by the Greatest Generation Foundation.

Cahill had planned to raise money for the trip via a GoFundMe page.

But after Maverick Johnson, a board member of the Denis V. Cooper Foundation, wishesforheroes.org, read a Feb. 25 Herald-Tribune story on that effort, he reached out to Cahill and offered the backing of the foundation.

“If anyone is deserving of a wish, it would be this hero,” said Johnson, a local radio personality on 92.1 CTQ, Suncoast Country.

The foundation, which has granted about half-dozen wishes since it started almost three years ago, agreed to pick up Seelie’s airfare and lodging.

“We are honored to do it, it’s kind of why we have the foundation,” Johnson said.

Seelie and Cahill will travel with Emi Kopke, the artist who designed a special commemorative shirt that Cahill gave Seelie on Veterans Day.

Cahill is traveling on his own dime, as are two foundation board members — Derek Williams and Gary Kortzendorf — who will fly up to be a part of Seelie’s tribute on Thursday.

Saluting the towers

In the current plan, Seelie, draped in a World-War-II-period-correct, 48-star flag and wearing his Pearl Harbor Survivor hat and custom shirt, will be in a wheelchair to conserve his energy.

World War II historian Diane Pirzada — who is flying to the event from California — will push him to the appropriate spot where he will stand, and at exactly 9:59 a.m., the time the south tower collapsed, salute for nine seconds.

He will later salute the north tower for 11 seconds.

In another link to Hawaii, Honolulu-based Beretania Florist is making a custom lei that will also pay tribute to 9/11.

Though technically a private ceremony, 2,000 to 3,000 people are typically on the grounds at a given moment. In recent days a variety of law enforcement agencies and first responders have emailed Cahill about attending the event.

Sept. 11 memorial staff and board members and at least two survivors, who escaped from the rubble at the World Trade Center, have committed to attend the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Seelie plans to tour the museum and break for lunch.

Later that day, he is expected to tour Engine 10, Ladder 10, aka FDNY Ten House, home of the first responders nearest the World Trade Center.

Fleet Week

Before and after the tribute, Seelie will be a part of Fleet Week.

During Fleet Week, active ships returning from deployment, as well as personnel with the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard dock in the the harbor.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to attend a parade at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, and on Friday, he plans to participate in a ceremony at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, where the Empty Sky memorial to 9/11 victims from New Jersey is located.

On May 29, he will be part of a Fleet Week ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, aboard the USS Intrepid, before returning May 30.

At least two days, May 27-28, aren’t officially scheduled, partly so Seelie can rest, and partly to accommodate tentative queries from New York-based media, Cahill said.

The main thing, Cahill stressed, is the Thursday service, which will end when Pirzada walks him over to a portion of the granite memorial where the names of law enforcement officers who died on 9/11 are etched.

There Seelie, who finished his career as a member of the military police, will place the lei.

“He’ll put his hands on the granite and lean on the granite and put it down,” Cahill said. “This works into the John Seelie full-circle story.”