KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In New York City, 343 firefighters died in the Twin Towers, trying to save as many lives as they could.
Each year, local heroes remember that bravery by taking part in a Memorial Stair Climb at the Sunsphere.
In remembrance on the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, more than 200 local first responders climbed the equivalent of 110 flights – carrying each firefighter who died that day with them.
“We stopped, we waited, you know we had some that you know we always make sure that we’re all taken care of, even if it’s people you don’t know,” said Joe Fields, assistant fire chief of Northview Kodak Fire Department.
The team effort echoing the brotherhood of the men and women who did the same after each of the towers were hit – and fell.
“It is very physically demanding. I mean with the gear that we wear and the extra weight and then the fact that our gear is designed to not let any heat in but then it also does not let any heat from our bodies out, so you retain that heat and it’s just – you become an oven,” said Fields.
Though that is nothing compared to what the men and women who died went through 18 years ago today.
The Memorial Stair Climb was a small glimpse into the world of what the 343 FDNY firefighters went through as they worked tirelessly to bring people down from the Towers.
This, also could ensure the generation that has grown up since then, knows what came before them.
“I’ve got a 17-year-old and of course he’s grown up with me in the fire service and he knows a lot about 9/11 but still not the impact of what it really did to the country and what it did to a lot of individuals and to the fire service and I mean I think just to be able to live through that piece of history in our generation, it means a lot – verses the kids now that are just reading it in history books,” said Fields.
Fields also saying it’s hard to describe the feelings and the sights that happened during that time, which is why the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is pivotal in carrying on the impact and sacrifice of how the world changed that day.
“… and you saw up there that there was multiple people taking breaks and everybody shook their hand and said come on you got this – keep through it keep going through it because some people gave some and some people gave it all,” said Logan Bagwell, a junior explorer with Rural Metro Fire.
“Think about those guys and those men and women who gave everything for people who didn’t even know their own names, for people who they never met and going in to risk their lives for that,” said Bagwell. “I’m truly grateful to know that somebody would do that for me and for anybody else.”