SAN DIEGO — Thousands took part in the San Diego Firefighter 9/11 Stair climb Saturday at the Hilton San Diego Bay Front.
Before ringing the bell, participants said the name of a first responder who lost their life that day and started the climb in their memory.
Participants included civilians to those in uniform. Even teams like FOX 5 took part in the memorial climb.
Each person climbed the hotel of more than 30 stories three times to make 110 stories in all. Each time the haul gets harder, but encouragement keeps everyone going. For some, the climb has become tradition for the last six years.
“We’ve got guys from Ohio, San Diego City, Richmond, California and every year we come together to honor everybody who perished on 9/11,” said Paul Messer, a firefighter at the Combat Center in 29 Palms.
For others like Captain David Acosta, who was deployed on 9/11, it hits close to home.
“The sacrifices that not only the firefighters did but their families, who are struggling now to get those families who survived who are also coming down with other cancerous diseases and other debilitatings kind of diseases that they go through,” said Acosta.
Jim Smagala, a survivor of 9/11 has a different experience when it comes to the yearly memorial, after he responded with his fellow firefighting family and lost his brother that day.
“It’s a double-edged sword because in one sense, you’re happy that everyone in the nation is remembering those that we lost and remembering trials and tribulations that we went through. At the same time it’s difficult because every year we need to relive it again,” Smagala said.
Fifteen years later, to many it still seems like yesterday and for that, we will never forget.