Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Honored with Annual Lighthouse Climb
....WITH SLIDE SHOW
By JOY CRIST
high winds that gusted to roughly 20 mph, dozens of local and visiting
firefighters braved the annual trek to the top of the Cape Hatteras
Lighthouse to honor the first responders of 9/11.
climb, which is now in its fifth year, is a tribute to the 2997 people
who died that day in New York, 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.
mission here is to never forget – it’s that simple,” said Jeffrey Del
Monte, deputy chief of the Buxton Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s hard
to believe that it’s been 16 years… I hope in 50 years when I’m long
gone that there’s a group of firefighters here carrying on that goal to
firefighters from Avon, Buxton, Chicamacomico, Frisco, and Hatteras
participated in the climb, as well as firefighters from Southern
Shores, Duck, and Kill Devil Hills. In addition, several visiting
current and veteran firefighters also joined in the event.
Chavez Wilson from Harford County, Maryland and Willie Weber from
Oxford, Pennsylvania were invited to participate while at a local
restaurant, and veteran firefighter Don Labanca from Hampden,
Connecticut joined the climb to the top as well.
vacationed here every year since 1993,” said Labanca, “and it’s fitting
to be here right now to honor [the first responders] and to remember.”
Hatteras islander Mike Regan, who was a first responder at the Pentagon
on the morning of the attacks, echoed this sentiment moments after the
climb. “Well done,” he said to the assembled firefighters. “[This was]
a successful mission today – Never forget.”
than 50 firefighters, National Park Service personnel, and other
responders made the hike up the 257 steps to the top of the lighthouse,
as EMTs remained stationed close to the base in case of an emergency or
medical issue. The climb began at exactly 8:46 a.m., to mark the time
that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the
World Trade Center in New York City
firefighters were weighted down with full gear, (a deliberate and
significant tribute to the first responders of 9/11 who made their way
up the Twin Towers), but took just minutes to reach the top where they
flew an American flag.
crowd of family members, friends, and visitors stood at the base of the
lighthouse and watched, taking in the scene, and the moment.
mom was a medic for 30 years, and I am glad I could be here for this,”
said visitor Ann Galloway from Ohio. “I was a social worker at an
elementary school at the time, and when [the attack] happened, it was
the worst day of my life.”
humbling,” said Tricia Watson from Avon, whose husband, Zac – a
volunteer firefighter – made the climb to the top, “and it’s a moving
first wave of firefighters returned from the top of the lighthouse by
9:05, and by 9:25, all of the first responders were back on the ground.
Unlike previous years, the cooler temperatures made the event far
comfortable for both the participants and the bystanders watching from
the climb, Del Monte thanked the crowd for attending, as well as all
the people who participated in the annual climb. “It’s great to see
everyone take time out of their day to reflect and get together,” he
said. “This is just a tiny gesture… but it means a lot to all of us.”
The assembled firefighters and spectators joined in a moment of silence after the climb to honor the fallen heroes of 9/11.
folks in the crowd were thankful for the event, and grateful for the
volunteer firefighters themselves who do a world a good for their local
of you are volunteers, and we thank you for all that you do,” said Cape
Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac. “We continually
thank all of you for that day, and for every day that you watch out for
all of us.”
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