September 12, 2015
40 firefighters remember the fallen with
Memorial Lighthouse Climb...WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
8:59 a.m. on Friday morning, Sept. 11, 40 Outer Banks firefighters
began climbing the 257 stairs to the balcony of the Cape Hatteras
Lighthouse to remember their brethren and others who died in the
terrorist attacks of 14 years ago.
It was a mostly cloudy morning, but it was warm and muggy as they began
their ascent in full attire -- coats, pants, hats, boots, and with many
of them carrying about 50 pounds of gear.
"It's really quiet going up the stairs," says Jeffrey Del Monte, deputy
chief of the Buxton Volunteer Firefighter who began organizing the
event two years ago. Occasionally, someone might murmur words of
encouragement to someone who is struggling, but, other than that,
he says it's very quiet.
"The firefighters are very humbled," he adds. "It's very moving, very emotional."
Outside the lighthouse, friends and family gathered to support their
firefighters and tourists stopped what they were doing to watch -- also
After the firefighters descended, there were a few words spoken.
Del Monte reminded the crowd why the firefighters do it -- to "never
forget." And, this year, Mike Regan, a retired Fairfax, Va.,
firefighter who now lives in Avon, also spoke about Sept. 11, 2001, a
day on which he was a first responder at the Pentagon.
This third Memorial Lighthouse Climb was the best attended yet by
firefighters -- 40 of them from nine volunteer fire departments --
Duck, Southern Shores, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Rodanthe, Avon,
Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. Another dozen or so firefighters
attended, but didn't make the climb.
After the event, the firefighters were joined by other first responders
from The Dare County Sheriff's Office, the county Emergency Medical
Services, National Park Service, and Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative
for a luncheon that is organized by the Cape Hatteras Baptist Church
and features tables of great food donated by island businesses and
Del Monte makes it a point to keep advertising and promotion about the
Memorial Climb very low-key -- there just isn't much of it.
However, he doesn't hold back when he promotes the local fire departments.
"We are all volunteer," he says, "and we are always looking for new members."
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