Firefighters from Waxahachie, Midlothian, Ennis, and Maypearl joined with their brothers from around the country Saturday to memorialize the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Groups of emergency responders climbed the Renaissance Tower in Dallas as a part of the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb in a visual tribute to the fallen.
Before the climb, New York firefighter Christopher Howard spoke to the group about the importance of the day. Howard lost his father, George Howard, a Port Authority Police officer, in the attacks.
“Don’t just make Sept. 11 another day. Remember the courage and the bravery shown by so many,” Howard said. “Please make these stories that you pass along to others.”
Howard encouraged the crowd to learn about the responders who gave everything to save the lives of people unknown to them.
Each participant in the climb represented one of the 343 firefighters, 70 law enforcement officers, and nine medical personnel killed during the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. They also represented the lives of the first responders who have died since being exposed to hazardous materials while working at Ground Zero.
Waxahachie Fire Lt. Scott Safford stated is humbling to be apart of an event like this that honors the courage displayed by so many.
“There are not a whole lot of memorials. So to physical put myself through the things that they had to do is an honor,” Safford said. “The fire service is one big family and to see everyone come together to remember the fallen is an amazing site.”
Climbers started their journey in the basement of the tower. After leaving the basement, they traveled up 54 stories to the top. Once they are rested, they made the journey all over again to equal the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.
Midlothian Fire engineer Scott Layne stated the climb put the tragedy in perspective.
“When 9-11 happened my dad was on shift that day, so it was kind of close to home to me with him working as a firefighter,” Layne said. “I just want to finish for the guys that had to go through that.”
Climbers carry the life of each person lost on a nametag around their neck, which lists the name along with a photo of the person killed in the line of duty. The tag also provides the climber with information about the person and what they left behind.
Upon reaching the top for the second time, the nametag is placed on a check-in board. The climber reads the name, and the tag is put on the board. A bell is then rung, which signals that the fallen first responder reached the top.
Ennis firefighter Kyle Slovak stated the event provides a unique perspective.
“Our whole shift decided to come together and come out here today,” Slovak said. “It is really eye-opening to see everyone out here because you see how many people died that day.”