Hundreds of firefighters gathered Sunday, Sept. 14 to climb the stairs of the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower in downtown Nashville as a memorial to the 343 firefighters lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Each firefighter climbed the building’s 28 flights of stairs four times to match the World Trade Center’s 110 flights. Many did so while wearing full gear, which can weigh from 60 to 80 pounds. Every climber donned a name tag with the photo and rank of the fallen firefighter they were representing in the climb.
This is the fifth year the event has been held in Nashville. Firefighters stationed as far away as Ohio and Connecticut participated in the climb, one of more than 40 held across the country to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
“Being from Connecticut, as close as we were to New York, there was a feeling of wanting to help. We were put on a list to go help, but we were never activated,” said Ken Boudreau, a volunteer firefighter for 40 years from Simsbury, Connecticut, who has participated in the Nashville climb three years in a row.
“Three hundred forty-three guys died that day, so you really wanted to have helped in some way,” Boudreau said, “It’s important to understand not only what the 343 firefighters, the police and the EMS that responded that day did, but also that firefighters will come an render aid, regardless the risk to their life.”
When Boudreau climbed Tennessee Tower for the first time on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he told a friend in New York who had kept in touch with the family of a fallen FDNY firefighter.
“To spread that emotion to the families, that’s what makes it work” said Boudreau.
On Saturday, Sept. 20, firefighters will climb the Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville, and on Saturday the 13th, a climb was held at 736 Market St. in Chattanooga.