September 12, 2014

First responders honor fallen brethren with
9-11 Lighthouse Climb...WITH SLIDE SHOW


At exactly 8:46 yesterday morning, 30 firefighters and several other first responders started their second annual Memorial Stair Climb of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton.

The start time, of course, was the hour on Sept. 11, 2001, that American Airlines Flight 11 plowed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  The local first responders were still climbing the 257 stairs to the top of the lighthouse at 9:03, the time that United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower.

In all, 2997 people died that day in New York and Washington, D.C., and near Shanksville, Pa.  More than 400 first responders died at the Twin Towers, including 343 firefighters, 23 members of the New York City police force, and 37 from the Port Authority Police.

The victims were remembered yesterday morning on Hatteras Island and across the county.

"We haven't forgotten" is a motto that the fire services take very much to heart, says Jeffrey Del Monte, deputy chief of the Buxton Volunteer Fire Department and organizer of the event.

The Buxton department hosted the first Memorial Stair Climb last year, and Del Monte says the members plan to make it an annual event.

There were 28 firefighters who climbed to the top of the tower this year -- 10 more than last year. They wore their standard attire -- coat, pants, boots, and hat -- on the warm late summer morning, and most of them carried about 50 pounds of gear on their journey.

The firefighters this year came from the Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras, Avon, Chicamacomico Banks, and Kill Devil Hills departments. They were joined by a deputy from the Dare County Sheriff's Office and a National Park Service law enforcement ranger.

Five more firefighters offered support from the ground, and two members from Dare County Emergency Medical Services were on standby with an ambulance.

During the memorial, about two dozen folks watched and took photos -- family and friends of the first responders and visitors to the lighthouse.
After they descended, the climbers removed their attire and gear and gathered at the base of the tower for a few moments of reflection.

"It's more for reflection and remembrance than for pomp and circumstance," Del Monte said about the low-key event.

After the morning memorial, the members of Cape Hatteras Baptist Church in Frisco hosted all island first responders for a luncheon -- firefighters, police agencies, EMS and rescue squad, and linemen for the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative who are our first responders in storms.

Food for the luncheon was donated by island restaurants and included a buffet of such goodies as pizza, subs, chili, shrimp, chicken, and many desserts.

"There was no shortage of food," noted one guest.

Contributing restaurants were Burger Burger, Burrus Red & White Supermarket, Buxton Munch Company, Conner's Supermarket, Dinky's Waterfront Restaurant, Frisco Sandwich Company, Gidget's Pizza & Pasta, Gingerbread House, Harbor Deli, Hatteras Sol Deli & Cafe, Papa Nino's Pizza, Rusty's Restaurant, and Sonny's Restaurant.

And, finally, we'll include a reminder that all of the fire departments on Hatteras are strictly volunteer organizations.  They are also always seeking new members. Think about stopping by the firehouse and signing up.


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