Happy Sunday sweet people. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. My television and social media timelines were filled wit tributes and scenes from 20 years ago. I don’t know about you but, for me, it’s a little hard to look at. I absolutely remember what I was doing on 9/11/2001. Do you? I remember just being in disbelief when my boss came in to my office and told me what had happened. We then turned the television on and watched it all take place. I remember the fear I felt because you just sit there and look at it and there is not one thing that you can do. Just watch and pray. I remember going to my parents home on my lunch and loving on them. My little sister was taking a nap, she was barely 19 years old, and I just kissed her on the head and cried because I was so thankful for my family. I can’t imagine losing m loved one. Just a normal day for those victims. They got on a plane or went to work and just never came home.
Yesterday, in honor of the 9/11 victims, my same little sister (who is now 39 years old) and I completed a memorial stair climb. Oh my goodness. Do you all have one of these in your area? Let me just say if you do, please attend. It’s not a race, you just go and climb. Our local event is held at Bristol Motor Speedway. Our home of NASCAR in our region. The organizer of our race is a local firefighter who happens to be my friend. He works very hard all year to get ready to put on this event and it certainly is top in its class as far as I am concerned. This year was our regions 7th annual. I wanted to use today’s blog to tell you a little about it in case you get the courage to attend one in your area. Caution: I advise you train a little prior to the event. Go to your local high school and get to climbing the bleachers! I made the mistake last year of not pre-climbing as much as I just ran. Well runners, this ain’t no 5k. The break down is this: 2200 steps. That means 2200 steps up. And you gotta go down to get back up. Honestly the down is harder for me than the up. Yes, I’m old and chunky and I have arthritic knees. But, if you practice climbing once a week then it’s definitely doable. P.S. you wont be able on sit in the toilet the next day without help lol.
The climb starts at about 9:30 am but my sister and I arrived about 8:30. We like to see the other 500 folks that are there to climb. Many many fire departments from the area as well as adjacent states attend as a group. As we stand there in our tshirt, shorts, and tennis shoes we watch these heroic firemen and women put on their full gear, including face masks in a lot of cases to climb a hot 2200 steps. It’s truly humbling to watch them get suited up. Police officers (in full uniform) as well as EMS personnel attend. It’s truly something to see. The opening ceremony consists of reminders of the time frame that there was impact at the towers, the pentagon, and in PA. There was a prayer from the fire department chaplain, bagpipes serenading amazing grace, presentation of our beautiful flag, and singing the national anthem. If those few tributes don’t tug at your heart strings and make you proud to live in the greatest country on earth then just wait, there’s more……..Sorry that sounded like an infomercial lol.
We began our climb on the outer stairwell of the speedway. At each platform there are pictures with names of the fallen hero’s who ran into a crumbling building to try to save the lives of the people in the twin towers. Color photos and their names. Y’all tears just fell as I struggled to get my breath trying to climb. Once we entered into the stands, with the heat just smothering you, all that you here are the 911 calls from the rescuers to dispatch dictating what is happening inside those towers 20 years ago. Y’all it is unreal. Marching and climbing up stairs with a fireman in full gear in front of me and another behind me carrying a firehose with the names of the fallen firefighters written on it. You keep pushing. If they can do it so can you. It motivates you. Up and down 4 times and then you repeat it for a total of 4 cycles. You just do it. You take a break when you need to but, you keep climbing. You want to quit and struggle to keep your legs from cramping, but you keep climbing. Each climber carried a small badge on their clothing with a photo and a name of a rescuer who lost his or her life. Each cycle you complete you look at that badge and you look at the photos posted in the stair wells and you feel how blessed you are and you just keep climbing. YOU JUST KEEP CLIMBING! The difference is, I got in my car and drove home. The man on my badge lost his life 20 years ago yesterday. He was someone’s son, brother,husband, and father. Think about it. You would have kept climbing,
When you finally finish (it took my little and I about 88 minutes to complete the climb) you walk over to a stage where a local fireman gives you a microphone so that you can say the name of the brave soul on your badge. You then ring a big bell in his/her honor. I struggled to say his name. Yes, I was tired and my legs were complete jello but, more than anything, I was saying the name of the man that was so brave that he gave his life for other humans. I was so grateful to say his name. Well if you read this entire blog you see now why I will ALWAYS make the climb. This is the second year for myself and my little sister to participate in the 9/11 stair climb in my town. I can promise that it won’t be my last. As long as I can put one foot in front of the other I will participate. And you should too. It is the most rewarding, humbling “race” that I ever do. And even though there’s no cut off time or first place, it’s truly a race against yourself. Your grit, your endurance, your emotions, and your heart will thank you.
One more little thing and yes I know this has been a long blog but the occasion deserved it. Remember 20 years ago after this tragedy happened? Remember how much love you were able to pour out from sheer thankfulness that you woke up the next day? All that love you showed your family and people in general…… that love is what you should be showing everyone now and always. For those who wanna know, I burned 1000 calories today in that climb and my step counter calculated over 6900 steps. I was at peak heart rate of 172 more than once as my watch went nuts wanting me to stop. Talk about a workout. It put a run to shame. Have a wonderful evening and much love to you all. ❤️Always