9/11/01 :: never forget

September 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in history for New York City firefighters: 343 were killed.

I often forget the gravity of my husbands job.  what is expected of him and the responsibilities he’s held accountable for. he’s run into burning buildings more times than he can count.  been on the front end of the nozzle fighting the heat away from his melting face-mask, been on the back of the truck controlling the water feed to the guys fighting inside, drives the ambulance (he’s also a paramedic), commands fire scenes, runs accident triage..and yes, has rescued a cat or two from a tree.

this job isn’t a typical 9-5, thats for sure.

as we embark upon the 17th anniversary of one of the most emotional days in history it still feels incredibly fresh as I look back.  my memories are vivid from that day the Twin Towers fell to the ground in New York City and I will never ever forget the heartbreak in the days, weeks, months and even years that followed.  my dad was actually in NYC on business on 9/11/01, just a few blocks from the towers. he has said that when the towers were hit it brought everyone to their knees as if it were an earthquake.  it took him almost 12 hours to get a phone call through to let us know he was ‘okay’ and 3 days of driving to finally make it back home.  the helpless feeling was overwhelming.  no matter what your connection is to that day we were sucker punched by the individuals out to hurt our country, I think we can all agree upon the emotions felt. bitterness, resentment, shock, disbelief..so much sadness.

over the weekend Jordan was privileged to climb for the lost heroes of that day and paid tribute in the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb with his crew from Station 1.it is not a race, but rather a tribute honoring the sacrifices of fallen heroes –  fulfilling a promise to “NEVER FORGET” their brothers and sisters who have died in the line of duty that day.  slots for the event are open to 343 firefighters, 70 law enforcement officers and 9 EMTs (the number of firefighters/law enforcement/EMTs that were killed at Ground Zero with the collapse of the Twin Towers) and those 400+ service men and women climb 110 floors (the height of the former World Trade Center Twin Towers) in full bunker gear and uniform, just as they did that day in 2001.we pulled out of our driveway with four sleepy babies around 6am on Saturday morning and headed to Dallas to check in and prepare for the long morning ahead.  leaving us for just a few hours, but only with a promised return at the end.  as I watched Jordan give his babies sugars + hugs I couldn’t imagine having been on the other end of a panic phone call that morning to their loved ones to tell them goodbye.  the Renaissance Tower in downtown Dallas.  this building is only 55 stories- the Twin Towers were double at 110 – if that gives you any perspective on the trials of the climb that day in 2001.  the climbers climb the 55 stories, take the elevator down to the bottom, and do it again once more. leading up to the actual climb was about an hour’s worth of commencement ceremonies, moments of silence, and chilling speeches and music in remembrance of what this climb symbolizes.

the air was so heavy and emotions were high as I watched grown men wipe tears from their face as they prepare to climb. all climbers wear the name and picture of the hero they are climbing for.

Jordan climbed for firefighter Brian Bilcher of Squad 1. after the event started we made our way out to the parking lot across the street and hung out with the rest of the family and friends there to support the other climbers. in years past they have had bounce houses and more activities for the kids, but the overnight rain kept the ground too wet and they had just a few games to play. they still has fun as they always do!  probably the most emotional moment of the entire day for me. I couldn’t really compose myself after I watched these firefighters take a knee and set off the chirp on their air packs. the 343 firefighters climbing have always done this inside the building at the exact time tower one fell and again when tower two fell.

the air packs that are worn in a fire emergency have a motion censored alarm that sets off if a firefighter goes down and doesn’t move for a period of time. this sound alerts the other members of their crew that there is danger and someone is injured or unconscious.  there were only seven packs chirping and the sound was incredibly overwhelming.. tears are rolling down my cheeks as I type this because, for whatever reason, the symbolization of those chirps sounding off hit me for the very first time this year.

if 7 packs sound like this, I cannot imagine the deafening sound that 343 air packs could create.during the climb we were able to watch video of the participants in real time as they made their way up to the 54th floor (they start in the basement).  finally, two and a half hours after the climb started, Jordan emerged from the elevators with open arms to catch his babies that couldn’t wait to see him again. sweaty and tired, but so proud to be finished.  the rain came pouring down as we headed into the Brotherhood Bash that they host every year for the firefighters and their families. this is the extent of the pictures I took at lunch.. everyone was emotionally spent and exhausted and ready to focus on food.Irving Fire.thank you for the love and support you showed our family on Saturday. the messages and comments and shares meant so much. it is a strange thing, this social media world, but I am so thankful.

always remember 9.11.01 

September 11, 2018

  1. Laci says:

    This climb always gives me chills! Never forget!

  2. Carolyn H. says:

    Amazing tribute. Beautifully written, my eyes were filled with tears reading this!

  3. Rikki says:

    love how your family embraces all the good things in life. you truly know how to document it all and draw us in….it feels like we are right there with you….great job amber! so impressed by you and your family. and jordan rocks too! #neverforget #17years

  4. Kayla says:

    Wow… Year after year this still brings me to tears. So thankful that people like Jordan are around to serve. It takes a special heart to give your all to others and it seems like he does that without looking back. You have a special man!

  5. Every year that you share about this brings me such emotion. A huge thank you to your husband for his service. I can’t even imagine how heavy this day feels as a first responder’s wife.

  6. Jenny says:

    This gives me chills! Thank you so much for writing this and for your husbands service. Every year I read this and it just makes me appreciate our country and the compassion people have. never forget.

  7. Sierra says:

    What a beautiful way to pay tribute to remembering and honoring 9/11. I know most first responders aren’t always remembered, but a huge thank you to your husband for his service. Sierra Beautifully Candid

  8. Lauren Harrelson says:

    I’m tearing up just reading this. What an incredible event, moment …