Although it’s been a decade, the memory remains fresh. For San Diegans, this was exemplified last Saturday as the city hosted a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to honor the 343 New York firefighters who lost their lives after the Twin Towers collapsed.
The San Diego Fireman’s Relief Association, an organization focused on the health and safety of firefighters and their families, arranged the event at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. This picturesque San Diego bay location was the perfect backdrop for a crowd of supporters who cheered on participants running the course in memory of those who sacrificed their lives.
“Since this year marks the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, we wanted to introduce the event to San Diego,” director of marketing and development at the San Diego Fireman’s Relief Association, Jerry Burkey, said. “This is the first time that the Memorial Stair Climb is in Southern California and we were shocked by the turnout.”
The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was created by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in 2005 and has since been hosted in cities throughout the United States.
The mission of the event is for teams of firefighters and volunteers to climb 110 floors. The specific number symbolizes the amount of stories the firefighters climbed inside the Twin Towers. Each of the climbers carries a photograph and biographical sketch of a firefighter who was killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Burkey explained the climb begins with each climber announcing into a microphone the name of the firefighter they are climbing for and then touching a piece of steel that was originally part of the South Tower.
“Each part of the climb is symbolic,” Burkey said. “We wanted to recreate the firefighters going up into the building and safely coming back down to their friends and families.”
Almost all of the firefighters who participated in the San Diego climb wore full turnout uniforms to simulate the sweat and weight each firefighter carried while climbing the floors of the Twin Towers. Some participants carried hoses and used air packs during the climb.
This reenactment of the tragic climb on 9/11 is meant to commemorate the bravery of their sacrifices. The phrase “never forget” is embedded into the logo of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and clearly states the intentions of what the San Diego Fireman’s Relief Association has set out to accomplish.
“It is human tendency to forget what has happened,” Burkey said. “That is why we put this event on; to help people remember what happened to our country and our heroes.”
Ten years have passed since the last tower crumbled into one of the most devastating tragedies in United States history. However, the supportive energy present at the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb last Saturday proved that not all memory is lost in time. The cheers of joy from the crowd as they watched the climbers finish the course was proof the victims of that day will never be forgotten.