Central Pa. first responders, supporters, climb State Capitol building steps to honor fallen 9/11 emergency workers

  • Sam Dunklau

(Harrisburg) — A few dozen emergency service workers and supporters climbed the steps of the State Capitol building Friday in honor of first responders who died in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

While a fire truck raised a large American flag above the scene, a number of firefighters donned their full gear and repeatedly walked up and down the several flights of stairs.

Participants aimed to make the climb 22 times, which equals around 1,980 steps in all. That’s the same number emergency service workers climbed to reach people trapped in the burning World Trade Center 19 years ago.

“The first responders, the firemen and the police did not know it was 1,980 steps,” said State Rep. Francis Ryan (R, Lebanon County), who was among several state representatives to speak at the event.

“When they awakened that morning, they did not know that their lives were going to change forever, and their lives may have possibly been ended,” he said.

A few firehouses in the state started the tribute a year ago, called “Continue the Climb.” Hope Stuart, who helped organize this year’s event, says she remembers the moment the first plane hit.

“That moment changed all of our lives forever,” Stuart said. “To be able to come together today and remember and honor all of those lives is a great thing for us to be able to do.”

414 first responders died that day in New York from the fires and resulting collapse of the two 110-story World Trade Center towers.

The stair climb is one of several memorials held across the commonwealth.

Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden paid their respects at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in Somerset County.

40 passengers and crew fought for control of that plane with terrorists who are believed to have been flying for either the White House or U.S. Capitol Building.

State Rep. Torren Ecker (R, Adams and Cumberland counties) urged those remembering the fallen first responders in New York to keep their memory alive beyond Sept. 11 each year.

“We cannot forget them now. We couldn’t forget them back then, we can’t forget them now. They still do that. They still go into buildings. They still save lives. They still help us.”

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