Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11: Never Forget

Millions of people can recall with astounding clarity exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001. For firefighters, the date is especially meaningful because it signifies the largest number of firefighters lost in a single incident. They may not have known any of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died trying to save others in the Twin Towers that day, but they still feel the loss. Firefighters are a very large, extended family that believes in the meaning of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Across the country, firefighters have already completed or will participate in an annual event known as the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. From the website http://www.firehero.org/events/9-11-stair-climbs/:

Each participant pays tribute to a FDNY firefighter by climbing or walking the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. Your individual tribute not only remembers the sacrifice of an FDNY brother, but symbolically completes their heroic journey to save others. Through firefighter and community participation we can ensure that each of the 343 firefighters is honored and that the world knows that we will never forget. The proceeds of these events help the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation create and maintain programs that support fire service survivors. Your support of the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb events provides assistance to the surviving families and co-workers of the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.

Firefighters need to be in top physical condition, as this is an extremely demanding event. Firefighters wear full bunker gear, air packs, and carry a piece of equipment used for high-rise fires (e.g. 2.5” hose pack or a forcible entry tool) as they ascend the stairs of a high rise building or other venue such as Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado to simulate 110 stories.

Other memorial events include a ceremony at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial located at the National Fire Academy/National Emergency Training Center complex in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I was privileged to witness this moving ceremony firsthand in 2013. It is my sincere hope that these tributes continue long into the future to tell the world:

We Will Never Forget
 
9/11 Memorial at the National Fire Academy/
National Emergency Training Center, Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Photo by R. Widmar. Copyright 2013.

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