“When I am called to duty, God wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life, whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it's too late,
or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert to hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
to guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to your will I have to lose my life,
bless with your protecting hand my loving family from strife.”
(The Fireman’s Prayer)
The tolling of the brass fire bell echoed through the circular rotunda of the three-story Soldier Support Center Building on Fort Rucker Monday, Sept. 9, following the reading of the Fireman’s Prayer.
The nine slow bell strikes with a fire hammer were part of the traditional bell ringing service which marks the end of a comrade’s duties. “To symbolize the devotion that these brave souls had for their duty, a special signal of three rings, three times each, represents the end of our comrades’ duties and that they will be returning to quarters,” said a Fort Rucker Firefighter participating in the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb held in memory of the first responders who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001.
The world changed at 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001 when a commercial airliner crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City killed 2,996 people. “And so, to those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well done, to our comrades, their last alarm, they are going home.”
The 9/11 ceremony began at 8:30 a.m. followed by the ringing of the fire bell at 8:46 a.m., which was when the North Tower was attacked. The stair climb began at 8:48 a.m. and ended at 9:49 a.m., the time the South Tower collapsed.
Some 30 military and civilian firefighters, dressed in more than 80 pounds of equipment and full fire protection gear, climbed the center stairwell to the third floor of the building until they climbed the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs—the amount New York City firefighters faced during 9/11.
More than 500 firefighters responded to the twin towers after the attacks and 343 of those died, one from being hit by a jumper from one of the towers. “It is the act of these and others that reflect the spirit of God pressed into the human spirit of man yielding acts of valor and sacrifice that are difficult to comprehend with the mortal mind,” is the way Chaplain Maj. Scott Kennis put it in opening remarks at the ceremony.
“Lord, may we never grow weary of remembering and honoring those who sacrificed so much for others and continue to do so today,” Kennis prayed for the first responders and the families, friends and coworkers gathered on each of the three stories applauding the memorial climbers. “God, please shed your grace upon us.”
Firefighter Brad Taylor of Eufaula was one of the participants in the Fourth Annual Memorial Climb. “This event is everything, it represents everything that we do and are,” Taylor, a Fort Rucker firefighter for five years, said. “It’s what we all know is possible and we all hope doesn’t come.”