By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsSeptember 16, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- In November of 2001, President George W. Bush told the United Nations that for the U.S.A., "There will be no forgetting," the attacks of 9/11.
Almost 18 years later, the Directorate of Public Safety led the charge to ensure those words rang true amongst the Fort Rucker community by hosting two events to honor the fallen of 9/11 -- the 4th annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Sept. 9 and the 9/11-Stephen Siller Moving Tribute Sept. 11.
Chaplain (Maj.) Scott Kennis, family life chaplain, set the tone for the memorial stair climb during his benediction.
"Today, we pause with sober reflection and are reminded of an event that changed our nation's history and changed the lives of families forever -- 9/11," he said. "A Latin inscription at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero is translated, 'No day shall erase you from the memory of time.' Lord, we ask that we will never grow weary of remembering and honoring those who sacrificed so much for others, and continue to do so today."
About 40 Fort Rucker firefighters then took to the stairwells of Bldg. 5700 to climb a total of 110 floors of stairs -- the same amount faced by New York firefighters in the World Trade Center, according to Brad Taylor, firefighter and organizer of the event.
"We will remember every rescuer who died with honor. We will remember every family that lived through grief. We will remember the fire and the ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. We have not forgotten, so today we will climb the stairs here a total of 18 times to represent the 110 stories of the World Trade Center -- honoring the sacrifice those men made deliberately putting themselves in harm's way so that others may live," the firefighter said.
A crowd of employees and family members gathered in corridors of Bldg. 5700 to cheer on and support the firefighters, as cheers and clapping resounded through the halls each time the participants passed by.
"On an emergency team, you don't normally have people cheering you," Taylor told local media reporters during an interview at the stair climb. "You go through all of the different emotions -- the adrenaline and the purpose. Those people here cheering us on and showing their appreciation -- it's invaluable to us in trying to do this memorial climb."
After a reading of the "Firefighters Prayer" at the 9/11-Stephen Siller Moving Tribute, Chris Quattlebaum spoke about the tribute's namesake and what he did the day of the 9/11 attacks.
On 9/11, Siller had just gotten off the late shift at Squad 1 in Brooklyn. He was on his way to play golf with his brothers when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear, drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it was already closed, so he strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back and ran about 2 � miles through gridlocked traffic from the tunnel to the towers, where he gave up his life while saving others, according to www.tunnel2towers.org, a foundation created in Siller's name.
"That's pretty heroic," Quattlebaum said before quoting Jay Price, who wrote about Siller. "Every momentous event, even a tragedy, has its symbolic figures. Sept. 11 was no different, it just had a few more of them."
After Quattlebaum spoke, about 50 firefighters, other DPS personnel and supporters from the Fort Rucker community formed behind a ladder truck and the department's color guard, and walked about 2 � miles along post roads in honor of Siller and the other fallen of 9/11.