Today I had the honor to participate in a local memorial event to recognize 9/11/2001. This was the fifth year for the event in which participants climb 2,071 stairs within Nippert Statium at The University of Cincinnati. This number symbolizes the stairs of the 110 floors each of the World Trade Center towers had. The amount of time to complete the event is 56 minutes. This was my first time attending the event and I must say, I was awestruck.
The number of people that attended the event was amazing. The event started at 6:34 this morning, I arrived around 5:30 and met with a local group that were going to ruck the stairs rather than simply running / walking. We each carried a pack, ruck sack, with us with a 30 lb weight plate. The goal was to complete the 4 laps that the event required.
As I was going through the repetitions up and down the stairs, they were making announcements of the events that transpired on that day in history, and the names of those that lost their lives scrolled across an electronic screen I began to recount where I was on that day. I was actually on that exact campus just a few hundred yards away. I walked right through that stadium on 9/11 to go to class.
The stairs began to wear on me quickly and I was only halfway through my first lap. Then I saw a group of young ROTC students with Xavier University’s Air Force ROTC program. That picked my hopes up for a bit and I went on. The harder it got for me the more details I remembered about that day. The more flights I did the more I thought about those that lost their lives, seeing the names I began to take a step for each one just to push on to the next. At the end of the time I did not complete the 4 laps needed to commemorate the total number of stairs. I did complete two full laps of stairs knowing that after that event was done I still get to go home and hug my family.
This day is always going to be a day of remembrance in my family. Today, I was lucky enough to commemorate it among some amazing veterans, active duty, and future military and first responders.
This morning was like most other mornings for me. I woke up and got ready, my wife had just finished feeding our youngest daughter when I was getting ready to leave. This is a little out of the norm as they are typically still sleeping, since she was in the kitchen when I was going to leave I gave her a kiss and a hug and it was one that just felt like it was really needed. I hadn’t put much more thought into it, and headed on in to the office. On my way in I stopped to pick up some morning snacks for the crew here and came on in to the office. Still, nothing really struck me about today.
In a meeting this morning Bryan Peters mentioned that it was in a meeting just like the one we were in at pretty close to the same time when the first plane hit 14 years ago. It is a memory that everyone with EXAIR 14 years ago remembers because someone brought a TV in from home and they placed it in the center of the office to try and learn what was happening. A very familiar setting as all of us throughout the country.
That made me think of where I was on this day 14 years ago. I was Sophomore at University of Cincinnati and had just left a class, I was heading back to the fraternity house that I was living in. On the walk back I got a message from a good friend asking if I was okay and if I had seen what was happening. Once I got to the house I went straight to the loft and turned on the TV. I sat and watched the news coverage with the few of us that were there at that time. t more messages and calls from friends on my phone asking if I had heard. It still was something I couldn’t wrap my head around.
On that day I will always remember the first person who contacted me and not knowing what was going on. I have been to the 9/11 site since then but it was before the memorial opened. Even though it was years after that horrific day there were still memorials surrounding the construction site.
When 9/11 was mentioned this morning I got to see each person I was surrounded by begin to relive that day in their own minds and think of where they were. Even though I wasn’t at the same place they where and I didn’t even know any of them, we all shared the same thoughts.
My thoughts and prayers still go out to the people that lost their lives on that day, and their families. And I continue to honor and respect the brave service men and women that choose to protect our freedom as we go about our daily routines.