Yesterday, the tenth anniversary of September 11th, I participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Greenbelt, MD. I climbed with Willie Wines Jr., his father Willie Wines Sr., Bill Carey, Tommy Warshaw III, Kevin Totten, my son Preston, and many others.
I will be posting about climbs across the Nation later today.
Preston is only 8 years old. He wanted to climb…he was not forced. Preston was able to climb around 80 floors, I carried his names the rest of the way. I told Willie after the climb that right at the time Preston told me he couldn’t climb anymore I was about to ask him to finish the climb for me.
Preston wasn’t alive on 9/11. He is learning what it is about. When he gets a little older, he will learn all about it in school they way our school board wants him to learn it. I will teach him how I want him to learn it.
It will be my job to teach him about the significance of the number 343. I see the number everywhere. I paused the microwave today at exactly 3:43 left…simply by coincidence.
Preston climbed. It was a proud day. I was soaking it up so much that I failed to get a picture with just Preston and I.
Willie climbed with a bad back. He threw his back out a couple of days ago, yet still made the climb.
We travelled for the climb this time, we climbed with friends, brothers, and family. We climbed just like we have in the past…in relative silence, reflecting on the reason why we climb.
About a week before the climb, Willie and I spoke with our good friend Zach Green of MN8 Products. Zach manufactures the illuminating helmet bands, SCBA bottle bands, tape, and epoxy known as Foxfire. We asked Zach if he would send us 343 helmet bands to hand out at the climb. Zach was happy to do it.
Not only did he send us 343 bands, he actually had a special run made of the bands. This time he had the logo in orange (usually green). He also had each of them marked with the day and numbered 1/343, 2/343 all the way up. They were a hit. The organizers where happy we brought them and the participants were glad to get them. In parts of the stairwells where the lighting wasn’t the best you could see them illuminating.
Zach wished he could have climbed with us. He could not make it. Instead, I understand that Zach climbed 110 floors on the stairclimber at his gym…in full turnout gear.
There were extras, because we did not have 343 climbers in Prince George’s County. Stay tuned for how to get a hold of yours if you want one of theses special commemerative bands.
Why I climb
As I said before, I have participated in 3 stair climbs. I am not sure if I will do another. We will see when the opprotunity arises.
For the most part, I climb for our brothers who died on 9/11.
I reflect. I think about everyone who died on 9/11.
I climbed to finish the climb of our brothers.
Who I climbed for
This climb, I climbed for Firefighter Carl F. Asaro (Battalion 9) and Firefighter Karl H. Joseph (Engine 207). I also carried the names of firefighters I climbed for in the previous climbs: Firefighter Durrell V. Pearsall (Rescue 4), Raymond York (Engine 285), Firefighter Joseph Agnello (Ladder 118), Martin McWilliams (Engine 22).
Preston climbed for Firefighter Paul H. Keating (Ladder 5), Firefighter William D. Lake (Rescue 2), Firefighter Frank J. Bonomo (Engine 230).
These guys will continue on with me throughout my career in the fire service. I will carry their names in my turnout gear.
Numerous friends of mine climbed in Richmond on September 11th. Some of them are my brothers from Roanoke. Captain Matt Dewhirst, Lt. Robert Reid, FF Jeff Oliver, and FF Peter Matthiesson.
Our guys from Roanoke climbed with packs on.
Willie and I even bumped into a firefighters wife from Roanoke. Liz Tuck is the wife of Geoff Tuck. I have never met Geoff (I don’t think), but I have corresponded with him in the past. Geoff is a Roanoke County firefighter. His wife, who is from Prince Georges’ County was there to do the 9/11 Memorial Walk. When I caught word that she actually wanted to climb with us I made it happen. I got her signed in to climb, although she wasn’t able to climb with us because our group was too big already.
Geoff, you should be proud!