9/11 Memorial Climb - A Walk with Heroes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Storer
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

The piercing tone of a bell cuts through the still September morning, reverberating through the halls of the Cannon AFB Fire Station 1. A solemn reminder of the toll taken on emergency first responders during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. An audience of law enforcement, medical technicians and fire fighters dip their heads in a moment of silence honoring those for whom the bell tolled.

A collective sigh can be heard once the moment is over as the crowd begins moving towards an emergency vehicle motorcade. Red and blue lights dance on the faces of those who walk to the Cannon AFB Control Tower. Soft conversations filter through the thrums of heavy engines.

Once at the base of the tower, each individual dons full emergency gear and receives a paper slip inscribed with a name. Each name belongs to a first responder who lost their life responding to the attacks on 9/11. The participants take each name up nine flights of stairs and hang the memory of a fallen hero to a stand.

The stairwells echo with ragged breaths, heavy footsteps and subtle voices. Raw determination and responsibility cloud the air, filling the minds and hearts of each stair climber with memories of emotions, confusion and crucial decisions. Decisions to put themselves in harm's way to save the lives of others. Decisions to seek revenge on our nation’s enemies. Decisions to ensure no one life was lost in vain on that dark day or any since.

Decisions to walk with heroes.

Once the somber procession has concluded, smiles can be seen in fulfilled eyes behind concealing masks. An event dedicated to the loss of life sheds its dark aura in celebration of the beauty of lives still left to be lived. That in itself is the beauty of life: Our ability to pay respects to those who came before by carrying their name to the top of a tower. Carrying their memories in our minds to the end of time, honoring their actions by continuing to better the world.

Some scars take longer to heal, some burdens are too great to bear alone, but the pride shared amongst these individuals gathered here today will bleed on forever.