As the country continues to remember those lost during the tragic events of 9/11, Austinites are coming together to honor the first responders who risked their lives to save others.
On Monday morning, firefighters with the Austin Fire Department completed a memorial stair climb at the Pleasant Valley Drill Tower in southeast Austin, as well as the Buford Fire Tower on Lady Bird Lake. They arrived in full turnout gear with air packs and hose bundles to climb the tower for about an hour in complete silence.
"Our memorials, especially this 9/11 memorial that we've been doing year after year, has evolved from when it was a debilitating sense of sadness and loss to realizing that we're still going forth, that these public safety providers are still [working] with a huge knowledge of what's at risk," said Lt. Andre Delareza, president of the Emergency Services Pipes & Drums Association.
The AFD's Memorial Stair Climb was the nation's first of its kind and it is now emulated across the country. In fact, it's also emulated right up the road at Mount Bonnell.
Around 7 a.m. this morning, dozens of people showed up to climb the steps of Austin's famed landmark 40 times to commemorate the sacrifice those first responders made that day in New York City when they had to climb 110 sets of stairs to rescue people trapped in the highest parts of the World Trade Center.
In all, 343 firefighters lost their lives trying to climb those stairs to rescue people. A total of 2,996 people have died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and thousands of others were hurt.