Charlottesville and Albemarle County Fire Departments participate in stair climb in honor of 9/11

People participating in the 9/11 stair climb at Monticello High School
People participating in the 9/11 stair climb at Monticello High School(wvir)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 12:49 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, the Albemarle County Fire Department along with the Charlottesville Fire Department united for a new tradition. Firefighters, families, and friends came out to Monticello High School Saturday morning for a stair climb to honor the firefighters who lost their lives at Ground Zero 20 ago.

“We always say never forget, don’t ever forget...but a lot of people don’t really think that through,” Suzanne Herndon with the Albemarle County Fire Rescue team said. “When we bring people together, you see the massive amounts of people around the country that get together for this cause.”

The event began promptly at 8:46am, the exact time when the first tower was struck. Everyone then began to climb 110 flights to re-enact the trek the firefighters made up each stair on 9/11. Through the heat and pain, everyone persevered and pushed through the climb.

This is both of the fire departments’ way of honoring the firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We had 343 pictures on the table over there,” Herndon said. “You say 343 firefighters, but you can’t really contemplate it until you see it on the table.”

The climbers rang a bell when they finished the climb and proclaimed the names of those who gave their life 20 years ago. Herndon says the number is actually bigger than it seems.

“It was 343 that day, but you really think of it as 343 and counting, because we have people now that have lost their lives to cancer and suicide, mental health issues that people and families are struggling with today,” Herndon said.

Herndon says 20 years may seem like a long time, but even after all those years, our country still is home to people that are suffering. That is why she helped organize this climb, to become a tradition for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

“It’s very important for everyone in the community,” Herndon said. “It’s a day that we can come together and remember some people that, some very good people, that lost their lives to this tragic event.”

Other firefighters say this twentieth anniversary, is just as important as previous years. This is why they came out Saturday morning, and will continue to do so in future years.

“As a first year firefighter, I felt it was important to honor those who come before us,” Albemarle County Firefighter Jordan Divine said. “Going through school we had a big emphasis on line of duty deaths and learning lessons.”

Stair climbs are held across the country to honor the 343 firefighters that lost their lives on 9/11, and now Albemarle County and Charlottesville are a part of that tradition.

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