By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker will mark the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with ceremonies in the next two weeks.
The first ceremony takes place Sept. 9 at Bldg. 5700, according to Jeremy Guernsey, Fort Rucker Fire Department A-shift fixed station captain.
"Starting at 8:46 a.m., when the (World Trade Center) North Tower was hit, the fire department will participate in a stair climb," Guernsey said. "The goal for each firefighter is to climb the equivalent amount of stairs adding up to the 110 floors the firefighters of the (New York Fire Department) faced that day in the World Trade Center Towers."
According to Guernsey, each participant will be given a picture of one of the firefighters who died. The picture will have the firefighter's name and company. The pictured will be taped to the participant's back or air pack during the climb to remind participants and spectators why the tribute is being conducted.
"(Sept. 11, 2001,) was the most horrific terrorist attack that has taken place on American soil, killing 2,996 people," Guernsey said. "Until that day, most Americans believed that nothing like that could happen here. However, we came together and defined what kind of individuals make up this country. The first responders ran into those buildings, not knowing the dangers that lay ahead. The passengers of Flight 93 fought back and made the ultimate sacrifice. 'We will never forget.' We all say it, but this is our way of showing it, of ensuring that those words have meaning and that the heroes of that day, whether firefighter, police, EMS, or anyone else that gave all are remembered and honored."
The next tribute ceremony, the Stephen Siller Moving Tribute, takes place Sept. 11 beginning at 7:30 a.m.
"Stephen Siller was an off-duty FDNY firefighter that strapped 80 pounds of gear on and ran nearly 2 miles through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to reach the Trade Center to help his fellow firefighters and victims on that dreadful day," Guernsey said. "The Moving Tribute will begin at Bldg. 5001, travel down Kingsman Street and continue for 2.33 miles to end back at Bldg. 5001 just before the 9/11 ceremony begins."
According to Guernsey, the moving tribute is a perfect opportunity for youth to better understand an integral piece of our nation's history.
"Reading or watching videos gives the individual the ability to detach themselves from that day and the sacrifices that were made," he said. "By walking with us during the moving tribute or observing the ceremony and hearing the bell ring or the bagpipes bellow, will provide attachment to the sacrifices made that day.
"Any time a community comes together in remembrance or to honor individuals brings everyone involved closer together," he added. "It brings to surface that day and the unity the nation experienced -- the overwhelming display of patriotism, pride and selflessness."
The 9/11 Ceremony will begin shortly after the moving tribute at 9 a.m. at Bldg. 5001.
"During the 9/11 ceremony, several firefighters from our department will say a few words to honor one of the 343 (firefighters) that perished that day," Guernsey said. "Lt. Col. Florentino Santana, Fort Rucker DPS director, will be speaking and Fire Chief Jeremy Evett will give the closing remarks."
For those who may not be able to attend a remembrance ceremony, Guernsey said a simple pause can honor the past.
"Observe a moment of silence for the ones that lost their lives that day," he said. "Offer up prayers for the fallen, their family and friends, and the safety of our military members, veterans and first responders. Volunteer at your church, community, or school -- sacrifice some of your time in honor of those that sacrificed all."
What do these ceremonies mean to Guernsey?
"It represents bravery and selfless sacrifice," he said. "I choose to remember the selflessness that was displayed that day instead of focusing on the unimaginable actions of a group of terrorist. The events of 9/11 proved that we, as a nation, no matter political views, religious beliefs or background, can put all that aside and come together when it matters most."