Four Rutherford County Fire Rescue firefighters participated in an annual 9/11 remembrance of their New York comrades Sunday in Nashville.
The ninth annual Nashville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb honors the 343 firefighters who died at the World Trade Center in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. According to the event’s website at nashvillestairclimb.com, firefighters wearing between 60 and 80 pounds of gear climbed the equivalent of 110 stories, the approximate height the New York firefighters would have climbed if the Twin Towers had not fallen. Each carried a badge with the name and photo of a fallen firefighter.
All funds raised by the climb support the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and are earmarked to help families affected by 9/11, the website says.
The event is held each year at the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower in downtown Nashville.
Lora Stover was one of the participants. She is a volunteer firefighter with about one-and-a-half years on the force and works full time as a dispatcher for Rutherford County Emergency Medical Service. Her father, Noland Stover, was a captain in the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department in Hamilton County and was her inspiration to become a firefighter.
Stover, 30, said she remembers the attacks. As she grew older, she appreciated the firefighters’ sacrifice even more. She participated in last year’s stair climb and was moved by the sight of hundreds of men tearing up at the ceremony.
She carried a badge, or card, representing Martin J. Egan Jr., a captain for Ladder 118. The ladder company was depicted in a famous 9/11 photo driving over the Brooklyn Bridge on the way to the Twin Towers; everyone died.
“You never know when it’s going to be your last call,” Stover said. “Everybody (at the climb) gets a card to carry with a name to the top because they didn’t get to the top.”
Stover carried Egan’s badge again this year.
Lt. Dustin Horton of Station 52 in Walter Hill also participated in the stair climb, his first time in two years.
“I like to do it because it’s a way to honor the 343 who were killed on 9/11,” and the other victims, the 14-year veteran said.
He said he also carried a badge representing a Ladder 118 member, Vernon Paul Cherry.
Horton, 31, said he was 15 when the attacks happened. A freshman, he was in world geography class at the time of the attacks.
Holding the stair climb is crucial so a new generation of Americans never forgets, he said, adding that high school freshmen, for the first time, are learning about 9/11 as an event that happened before they were born.
“The saying is ‘Never Forget,’ but in some ways we’ve forgotten,” he said. “That’s one reason I like doing this. We keep their memory alive.”