First responders from throughout the D.C. area suited up Saturday to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in physically -- and emotionally -- challenging way.
They climbed 110 stories at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor to remember firefighters, police and civilians who were killed in the twin towers at the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack.
It's believed that the firefighters who responded to the buildings had climbed 110 stories before the South Tower, and then the North Tower, collapsed.
More than 400 people participated in Saturday's stair climb, which was hosted by the Prince George's County fire department. First responders from Loudoun, Montgomery and Howard counties, from Arlington and from other emergency squads also joined in.
Others participated in a 3K walk to commemorate the three locations of the terror attacks: In New York, at the Pentagon and on a plane that crash-landed in Schwenskville, Pa.
Many of the participants in the stair climb Saturday suited up in full personal protective gear, including air tanks. That gear weighs about 85 pounds, said Prince George's fire department spokesman Mark Brady. And some of the firefighters also carried lengths of hose -- as the first responders at the Twin Towers had to.
Among the participants was Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who climbed the stairs in uniform, Brady said.
Stair-walkers climbed up 10 flights of stairs at the hotel 11 times.
"You know, when you are walking alongside firefighters dressed in full gear, you have nothing to complain about," said Prince George's County police spokeswoman Julie Parker, who participated Saturday.
The Prince George's first responders have participated in the stair climb for three years. Other stair climb events are being held throughout the country, as the nation remembers the thousands that died in the attacks that day, including 343 firefighters.
Besides the physical exertion, the climb was an emotional test as well -- and a time for firefighters who remember Sept. 11, 2001 all too well to discuss it with younger colleagues. "As we go forward and get further from that date, you get a lot of people involved who were too young to ind what it was all about," Brady said. "And then you get a lot of people who talk about where they were the morning of 9/11. That's what it is all about -- to never forget it, and to always remember."
There are 9/11 commemorations throughout the D.C. area Saturday. HandsOn Greater DC Cares is sponsoring a day of service and remembrance with nearly 50 service projects at nonprofits, schools and community based organizations in the area. For more information, click here.
And the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial Race will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. in Crystal City. n In 11 years, the event has had over 25,000 runners finish and has raised over $400,000 for 9/11-related charities, according to the event website.
Some roads will be closed for the event.
Closures that will run between 5:45 p.m. to approximately 6:30 p.m.:
- Westbound Army Navy Drive closed from S. 12th Street to S. Joyce Street. All streets that cross Army Navy Drive (including access to I-395 Southbound)
- S. Joyce Street closed from Army Navy Drive to Columbia Pike
- Columbia Pike closed from Pentagon South Parking to S. Joyce Street
- I-395 Northbound HOV to S. Eads Street
From 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.:
- Washington Boulevard westbound closed from Memorial Bridge to I-395
- Rt. 110 southbound closed from Rosslyn to S. 15th Street
- Marshall Drive closed at Rt. 110
- S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive to S. 12th Street
- S. 12th Street from S. Eads Street to Army Navy Drive
In addition, street parking in the area will be restricted. Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-228-4252.