Climbing stairs in remembrance of 9/11′s fallen heroes

Thousand Islands 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb
Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - “They all did this climb, they didn’t get to come home.”

For nearly a decade, Town of Watertown firefighter John Smith has been taking part in 9/11 Memorial stair climbs to remember first responders who died on September 11th, 2001.

On Sunday at the Dulles State Office Building, he signed up to participate in the 1st annual Thousand Islands 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

Smith says the climbs are both a physical and emotional challenge, something he’s been training for..

“As you can see, it’s a struggle. All this gear, just hot and you know, just extra weight,” said Smith.

What makes him push through?

“They climbed that day with it on, they didn’t get to train,” said Smith.

Dozens of first responders took part, ranging from Firefighters to EMS crew members. They climbed up and down 11 flights of stairs. Many more than once, each trip in memory of those first responders who didn’t hesitate in trying to help people inside the World Trade Center.

Firefighter Justyn St Croix was born after 9/11 but says he understands the importance in taking part.

“Oh, it gives you chills walking through those stairs and seeing all those pictures of all those faces going up through. And the ones that you’re walking for, you find their picture and you just hope for the best that they are doing well,” said St Croix.

He says the respect all firefighters feel towards those fallen heroes is the same.

“It’s hard walking up through there and seeing all those pictures, obviously we didn’t know them and it all still makes a difference,” said St Croix.

At the end of the stair climb, everyone came together to commemorate each fallen first responder.

“I just want to encourage everyone to take the time to remember those on 9/11 and educate your children about what the meaning of it was and that they don’t forget, because the next generations have to remember,” said Meredith George, who also took part in the climb.

Paying tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, one step at a time.