Every year, for 14 years, we have stopped to pay our respects for the events which unfolded 15 years ago. Every year, since that fateful day, the fire service has found was to “Never Forget”. There are many other events which are remembered each year locally…but 9/11 is one of those events that we all take a moment to remember.
Maybe younger firefighters don’t fully comprehend the effects of the day, and it is up to us to encourage them to understand. To share with them our thoughts and feelings.
I remember where I was, and I have shared the story several times. I was on-duty that morning, and my experiences are probably not unlike most of yours. I enjoy listening to others reflect on their thoughts and feelings that morning. I have had the pleasure of meeting numerous firefighters from FDNY and elsewhere who ended up on “The Pile” and because I didn’t visit the site until years later, I cannot fathom the environment at Ground Zero after the attacks.
One event I have been a part of since 9/11 is the NFFF 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. I have climbed in them numerous times and this year I was fortunate to be able to help out with making sure a local climb was everything it could be and more.
One thing I learned about the stair climb’s is that different people climb differently. Most of the climbs I participated in I climbed along side of Captain Willie Wines Jr….and we climbed in relative silence. We didn’t discuss it prior, that is just how it happened. I enjoyed being able to reflect on my own of what it must have been like when those brave firefighters climbed on 9/11.
However, to me it isn’t that you climb or even how you climb…it is that you take the time to remember…take the time to share with younger firefighters, friends, and family about the sacrifices made on that day.
This year’s Roanoke 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was the 2nd annual event. It was a great event. Firefighters and others climbed…some in silence, others talking with their fellow climbers. Everyone seemed to understand why they were climbing, and it culminated with ringing the bell and announcing the firefighter they were climbing for.
Since it was local, it was extra special for me. I have always enjoyed seeing our firefighters come together for a cause. No ego, no nonsense, just determined eyes on the collective task at hand.
I couldn’t be more proud.
One of my tasks this year was to make sure that our guests were taken care of.
Our “Guests” were:
Survivor Cheryl Costello who’s brother Lt. Steven Costello of the Burlington FD (VT) Died in the Line of Duty.
Survivor Courtney Morris who’s boyfriend Firefighter Joshua Smith of the LaCrosse VFD (VA) Died in the Line of Duty. Courtney was joined with her parents and friends.
FDNY Firefighter Al Weber also came back for the second year along with his wife and daughter.
Over 300 climbers total climbed 110 stories each. This included firefighters from across the State who traveled to climb.
Captain Bill Price, Newport News Shipyard FD, climbed again this year and climbs in several climbs each year raising a lot of money on his own for the NFFF.
All of this made me extremely proud to be a part of it.
Below is Cheryl Costello speaking prior to the climb.