ABOVE: Firefighters climb the 77 steps 27.5 times to commemorate the fallen First Responders. Yesterday was the 18th-anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Cowley County First Responders and community members do this every year. (Victoria Lybarger/Staff photographer)

By Taylor Rodriguez
Staff reporter

September 11th, 2001. This is a day that resonates deep in the hearts of many. To others, it is a day to grieve loved ones lost. Yesterday marked the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers. 

Every year, on 9/11, the Winfield Fire Department and other First Responders, gather at the base of the 77 steps leading up to the Christy Administration Building. Here, they walk in memoriam of the 343 brave souls who lost their lives during the collapse of the towers. This memorial walk is meant to simulate the 110 stories First Responders had to climb in the World Trade Towers.

Joining the trek was Joshua Brent, firefighter paramedic for the Winfield Fire Department. Brent has been a part of Winfield for the last five years and has his certifications for EMT, paramedic school, and an associate’s degree in fire science, among others.

“Oh, I just want to give back to the community. I want to do what I would call ‘service work.’ My life wasn’t a lot before. I was a bartender, I lived in New York City for twelve years and my goals and, uh, haha, aspirations didn’t amount to much and I wanted to change my life. 9/11 definitely planted that seed in me. It started to grow and it took a lot of personal change and going back to school,” said Brent when asked why he was a First Responder.

Brent was moving to New York City that day when 9/11 happened. “I had just driven two days and that morning I was arriving at the Lincoln Tunnel to go into the city. Of course, nobody could enter and they had shut everything down and I had to stay overnight in Jersey, right across the Hudson River, across from the Lincoln Tunnel,” said Brent.

“The next morning I went in and it was a complete ghost town. I had a Uhaul trailer and a pickup truck full of my belongings, looking for a place to live and it took me a week. I was going back and forth from Jersey every night and of course, I thought, ‘Man should I move here or not,’ and I did.”

Many of the firefighters who work day in and day out carry anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds of gears while on the clock. Staff, students and community members were also taking part in this memorial walk.

Alleigh Allen, freshman adviser, took part in the event as well. “So I am participating in this event because my husband is a firefighter in Winfield and so I’m very close with the fire department. Also with having a connection working at Southwestern, I definitely wanted to support both sides,” said Allen.

Allen owns a modeling agency in Wichita and is familiar with New York City, the Twin Towers being a part of that.

“I did see it happening on TV as I woke up and saw a text message saying that weird stuff was going on. It was just one of those moments where you just think ‘this really can’t be what’s going on out there.’”

Every year we are reminded of the tragedy that took place that day. Many groups on campus and community members visited the 77 to help support the First Responders, firefighters, SWAT and police that dedicated their morning to remember those who have fallen.

For more coverage on this event, go to http://scupdate.org/9-11-memorial-stair-climb-brings-community-closer/ and http://scupdate.org/local-firefighters-find-peace-in-remembrance/