Talon News - Good Local News

By Jessica Selph



September 15, 2017

Jessica Selph

"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September Day?" ... the words of Alan Jackson led millions in mourning, reverence and respect after the attacks on 9/11. The chart topper received song of the year, a Grammy award and multiple other accolades. Presented in question, it sparks raw emotion and takes us back to a place that we all must remember. Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did you feel when you heard our nation had fallen under terrorist attack? I was just eighteen years old, I had lost my only brother to a terrible accident two days prior. September 11 didn't rock my world like it did for most. The impact didn't sink in until years later. Perhaps this is why I am able to bring you a fresh perspective of that terrible historic day sixteen years ago.

Terror, evil, shock and everything that is bad in this world reared its ugly head in New York City at 8:46 am and again just twenty minutes later as two planes crashed into the now infamous towers of the World Trade Center (WTC). All of America watched in horror as their fellow men perished in a fiery display of smoke and debris. A series of four terrorist attacks, two in New York City, one at the Pentagon in Virginia and a downed plane in Pennsylvania, left us reeling. The greatest nation on earth had fallen prey to a senseless act of violence. The WTC employed an average of fifty thousand people as well as thousands of visitors each day, who all became trapped as the towers collapsed. All those people were helpless and afraid, lost in shock, until a beacon of hope glimmered through the ash. Our nation's first responders rushed to Ground Zero, into the belly of the beast, with a mission to search and to save. Fire fighters, EMS, police officers, community service members and citizen soldiers came to the aid of millions, recovering 18 survivors and 19,435 body parts. We sustained 2,996 deaths and over 9,000 were injured. Read that again and let it sink in. Almost twenty thousand body parts were recovered among the destruction and rubble. Some perished under hot molten steel dripping like lava from above, others jumped to their deaths in order to avoid being crushed under tons of steel. Ground Zero, the place where it all started, the area hit hardest, a once upon a time memory that still serves as a hollow reminder today.

This is why we must remember September 11, 2001. Not because it set historic records like the US Coast Guard assisting with the largest sea evacuation; or over 400 dogs gathering for the largest search and rescue mission; or because it remains the most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. history ... we remember because this one act brought into perspective the value of life. Three hundred forty three firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers gave their lives on that day, leaving behind sons and daughters, husbands, wives and mothers so countless others could live. It is the mission of the Farmington Fire Department that we never forget, that we forever remember these fallen heroes and what they sacrificed.

On Saturday September 9th, the FFD hosted the first 9/11 memorial stair climb in New Mexico. Nearly 230 registered climbers arrived at Ricketts Park in Farmington at 7am to prepare for a grueling task ahead. They would be climbing the equivalent of 110 stories throughout the grand stands of the park, the same distance our fallen fighters climbed inside the twin towers. Many fire fighters came prepared to climb the course in full gear, helmet and all, adding at least fifty pounds and lots of sweat to their load. Are you wondering why someone would willingly put themselves through that much discomfort, even paying to do so? I was too, so I looked up some traits of a firefighter. I found dedication, compassion, discipline, pride, courageousness, strength and honor, just to name a few. The attacks brought forth every emotion a firefighter might experience, the need to serve was overwhelming. That's something you can't just file in the memory bank as one tragic event and move on with life. 9/11 remains at the forefront of why Americans are so resilient today. Farmington fire fighter Gary Groomer and engineer Phillip Logan coordinated a spectacular event that showcased not only the tragedy of September 11th but brought the honor and respect that it deserves. The day was certainly an emotional one with fire engines, ambulance, police cars and even a helicopter on display at Ricketts Park entrance. Flags were posted about, including a giant American flag hoisted between two engine ladders creating a grand escort into the park. Once inside, another giant American flag hung from the back of the stands, over 75 volunteers in red shirts were hustling about trying to decipher instructions through walkie talkie static, the climber registration line was long, PV cheerleaders were offering free face painting and a bounce house, Firehouse Subs (who specifically supports the fire community), was set up to feed the entire crew and even held a special donation for the event. The best visual however was the stunning arrangement of American flags in the outfield, aligned neatly in rows, another flag displayed on the jumbo-tron, a massive banner of a fireman kneeling in respect, paying homage to our American heroes, bowing under the pressures of his task. The top of the bleachers gave view of yet another large banner. The 343 fallen firefighters on display for climbers to pass throughout their course. Each climber actually marched for the memory of one specific fallen firefighter. Stations from outer areas came to show support, including a group from Local 2059 in Santa Fe. Of course the event was meant to raise funds and I'll say a profit of over $25,000 made it a successful fundraiser. That money will go toward new equipment for our local fire stations where an average fire suit costs around $2,500. A portion of the funds will also go to the National 9/11 memorial fund that brings surviving family members together for an annual Memorial Day event.

Overall the day was absolutely spectacular. I'm not sure if it meant so much to me because I missed the event in real time but I will say that I am forever changed because of this memorial stair climb. I saw people coming out with an odd excitement to suffer, all to keep a memory alive. Let us remember not the heinous act of 9/11 but the outpouring of love that ensued after the attacks. The entire world watched with us, many rushed to our aid. Canada re-routed and harbored every plane headed to New York that had been grounded, a tribe in Africa donated 14 of their most sacred cattle, public transportation around the world was halted out of respect, multiple countries sent search and rescue teams and equipment to help with recovery efforts. Ground Zero found people of mixed races, political stances and sexual orientation working as one. A wise quote from Maya Angelou states, "If you look you will find that we are more alike than we are un-alike." One heart, two hands, two feet, some use them for good, others do not. The goal is not to look on the bad in this world but the good. What those 343 men did for us on September 11, millions of others prepare for each and every day. Thank you first responders, much love.

Be sure to look at the Talons website for candid photos from the event!


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