In a somber remembrance of the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 saving countless others, Dothan area first responders began a 24-hour stair climb in the Civic Center on Friday morning.
Each first responder held the American flag walking in 10-minute shifts, although several signed up to do multiple shifts with their team members.
“It just kind of makes it more real,” Shan Ash, battalion chief with the Dothan Fire Department, said shortly after completing a shift. “They were going about their job, doing what they do every day, but that was their last climb.”
The climb represents the ascent first responders, primarily firefighters, made on Sept. 11, 2001 while attempting to rescue people trapped in the twin towers. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks of the Word Trade Center, the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“It helps us not forget there was a sacrifice made and helps us realize that that could have been anybody at any time,” Ash said.
Stair climbs are hosted around the country with the closest annual one being held in Panama City, Florida.
Sgt. Michael Jagannath with the Dothan Fire Department was thankful for the opportunity to participate in the event locally to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line-of-duty.
Hundreds of first responders, mostly firefighters, lost their lives that day while saving countless others. Others who survived the initial event are still dying today because of exposure to toxic fumes in the towers.
Capt. Jeremy Alley was sweating when he finished the stair climb in full gear. On his climb, he carried with him badges with the faces of four first responders who perished on 9/11 he’d received while participating in stair climbs in Panama City.
“These are the four that I climb for,” he said as held up the badges.
Because of the high-risk nature of his job, Alley said he also climbed for his fellow firefighters who have died.
“With the brotherhood and sisterhood, we remember each other every day,” Alley said. “Whenever we get on the trucks, that’s who we do it for. We do it for each other and that’s why we’re here as a crew and that’s when we walked as a crew is we hold each other close.”
First responders will climb in shifts until 8 a.m. Saturday, at which time a Patriot’s Day ceremony will begin in the Civic Center, a joint effort by the City of Dothan and Houston County.
Sable Riley is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334.712.7915. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.