KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On September 11, 2001, the United States was under attack. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. In Knoxville, community members took time to remember the events that unfolded over two decades ago.
Monday morning, city leaders, local law enforcement, politicians and members of the Knoxville community gathered at the 9/11 memorial for the annual wreath-laying ceremony.
“It’s a wound that never heals,” Tim Burchett said. “You know people that were involved, I personally knew some of them that passed away.”
Right down the road, hundreds also gathered at the Sunsphere for the annual memorial stair climb, including NYPD retired Lieutenant Alex Fusaro. He was at work 22 years ago when he received a call from his wife.
“I promised her that I would be okay,” Fusaro said. “I asked her to tell my parents that I was going to be ok and I made my way out into the chaos.”
The climb pays tribute to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.
“The whole purpose of this is a time of remembrance,” Knoxville Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wilbanks said. “It’s a solemn event where we spend some time thinking about those who went before us and who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
As the message never forget was uttered throughout the ceremony, Fusaro saw the good that can come from evil.
“Hand in hand brave men and women worked at least 12 hours a day and it was not uncommon early on to work 20 hours a day,” Fusaro said.
The climb was equivalent to the 110 floors at the World Trade Center.
“Things changed in the United States after 9/11,” Wilbanks said. “The way we operate in emergency services kind of took an about-face and we re-thought everything that we did.”
Fusaro, as well as several local leaders, believes it’s important to teach the younger generation about the events that unfolded on 9/11.