September 12, 2013

Hatteras firefighters climb the lighthouse to remember
Sept. 11 first responders….WITH SLIDE SHOW


At 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Sept. 11, 18 Hatteras Island firefighters began climbing the 257 steps to the balcony of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to honor the memory of the 343 of their brethren who died in the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center.

The firefighters made the first Sept. 11 Memorial Stair Climb of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse wearing their full gear, just as the first responders did on that day 12 years ago, and 15 of them carried heavy breathing equipment on their backs.

At 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, New York firefighters and paramedics were already making their way up the stairs of the Trade Center to the fires on the top floors – much, much higher than the lighthouse.  The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m.  The second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, hit the South Tower at 9:03.

Jeffrey Delmonte, deputy chief of the Buxton Volunteer Fire Department, organized the climb to remember the victims of the attack and remember the events of the day.  He said that after 12 years, the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American is getting less and less attention.

Yet, he said, the events of the days remain “meaningful” and “relevant” and should not be forgotten.

The climbers, he said, included members of the Buxton, Avon, Chicamacomico Banks, Frisco, and Hatteras volunteer fire departments.

There were 21 firefighters who came to the lighthouse with the group, though only the 18 climbed.  A crew from Dare County Emergency Medical Services stood by during the event.

The trip to the top and back down took only 30 minutes, Delmonte said.  At the top, the group paused to let the climbers catch their breath and to reflect on the fate of many of the Sept. 11 first responders.

The last man out of the lighthouse after the climb, he said, was Buxton fire chief Bryan Perry.

After descending, the firefighters removed their equipment and reassembled at the base of the lighthouse at 10 a.m., which is approximately the time that the South Tower of the Trade Center collapsed.

The group observed a moment of silence and several members talked about their memories of the day of the attacks.

After the ceremony, many of the first responders were treated to lunch at the Cape Hatteras Baptist Church and dined on food donated by local restaurants.

Delmonte says he hopes the Sept. 11 Memorial Stair Climb of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will become an annual event that will be watched next year by a much larger group of spectators.

The Buxton deputy chief reminds islanders that all fire departments and rescue squads on Hatteras are 100 percent volunteer and always need more volunteers. If you are interested, drop by the fire house in your community. Perhaps you will be part of the second annual Memorial Stair Climb at the lighthouse.


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