HERNDON, Va. — All it takes is one glance at Paul Veneto and his trademark "Miracle" t-shirt to get a glimpse into his life's journey.
"I know people think this: 'What's this guy doing in the middle of the street with his beverage cart?'" he said.
To understand that, you have to look back to September 11, 2001, when Veneto was a flight attendant for United Airlines. His normal weekday route was flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles.
A few days before 9/11, his work schedule changed for that week, a twist of fate that saved him, but took the lives of his friends and co-workers.
"I believe, no question in my mind, that I have survived what I went through in my personal life to do this," he said.
What he's doing is Paulie's Push 2: The Pentagon.
It's a follow-up journey to his push last year, when he walked an airline beverage cart 200 miles, from Boston’s Logan Airport to Ground Zero in New York City, in honor of his fallen colleagues.
"There's only one thing I gotta do: push this cart to New York," he said at the time, during part of his walk through Connecticut.
This year, he wanted to do something slightly different.
"I had a lot of thinking to do because there was so much information that happened last year,” he said, “and I had a lot of soul searching and wondering 'Can I? You know, should I?'''
He decided he should—this time honoring those lost on American Airlines Flight 77. He is walking a nearly 40-mile journey from where the flight departed at Dulles Airport in suburban Washington, D.C, to where it crashed into The Pentagon.
Paulie sees it as a path to healing, not just for himself, but for those who come out to see him.
"And then, all of a sudden, I come walking down the street with a beverage cart and the neighbors are talking to each other. It was crazy!” he said. “And they would come up and one neighbor would walk away and the other one would say, 'You know something? I haven't talked to that guy in five years.'"
It's also touching the lives of those who know what it's like to work high in the sky.
Retired flight attendant Karen Murphy first met Paulie when they both trained early on in their careers.
"I was scheduled to fly on 175 on Sep. 12 and I know he was upset because he had a very similar schedule,” Murphy said. “We both narrowly missed 9/11 based on scheduling.”
Like others, Murphy said she appreciates what Paulie is doing and came out to walk part of the way to the Pentagon with him.
"I kept thinking about the flight attendants because they were the first responders," Murphy said, “and I felt like the flight attendants weren't getting the same attention and what Paulie is doing I think has been therapeutic for flight attendants, including myself."
Yet, there's one more reason Paulie keeps pushing.
"I'm keeping this thing alive for the generation that's coming up behind us. And that's important to me - that I see these families with their kids,” he said. “They had no idea what 9/11 was and so I know that those parents are telling them about 9/11."
Paulie is planning to do a similar walk for 9/11 next year in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. He said it is important that the sacrifices made by so many that day are forever remembered, adding, "We can't forget it."