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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Hays County first responders, community memorialize 9/11

Nichaela Shaheen
A list of the lives lost during 9/11 is carried by a local firefighter during his walk for the annual stair climb, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at Bobcat Stadium.

Hays County first responders held their two annual memorial events in honor of those in their line of work who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

22 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City, Sept. 11 remains an emotional day for many. Hays County first responders had the opportunity on Sept. 10 to remember and honor the first responders who lost their lives that day by climbing 110 flights of stairs in the third annual Hays County 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Bobcat Stadium.

The climb began at 8:46 a.m., which is the time that American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower. The climb was open to firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and dispatchers from across Hays County.

A timer was set inside Bobcat Stadium that played videos to commemorate every major event that happened on 9/11. 

San Marcos Firefighter Elijah Harris believes it is the duty of first responders to honor all those who lost their lives on 9/11 and to keep the tradition of remembering them alive.

“That’s a big part of our history. I’m kind of traditional, and it’s something that honors what happened in the past,” Harris said. “This is something everybody does… or should do in the Fire Service.”

San Marcos Firefighter Jacob Hanks, who coordinated the stair climb, recalled watching the events unfolding while at school, and those events added to his drive to become a firefighter. 

“I was 12 years old when 9/11 happened. I was in science class and [the teacher’s] husband brought a TV in and told everyone. We all wanted to join, fight and help, but we didn’t know what to do,” Hanks said. “I’d say [9/11] played a role in [becoming a firefighter].”

San Marcos Fire Department participates in commemoration to the 9/11 attacks during the annual stair climb, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at Bobcat Stadium. (Nichaela Shaheen)

Two fire hoses with the names of all the first responders that died that day in 2001 were passed around by all those participating in the climb. 

According to Hanks those items were a powerful reminder of the sacrifice made by all the first responders that lost their lives trying to save others on 9/11.

“We’re climbing stairs to finish the climb that those guys couldn’t finish,” Hanks said. “You’re carrying the weight of those guys that fell on Sept. 11, 2001. You know all those guys. They were told you’re going into those towers and you’re not coming out. Those guys went in anyway. They said ‘This is our job. We’re going to save as many as we can,’ it’s a big deal.”

At San Marcos City Hall, a second memorial service was held on Monday, Sept. 11 at 8:40 a.m., also commemorating the lives lost in the attacks and the first responders who lost their lives in the aftermath. 

After a brief speech, the U.S. flag that was flown over city hall on Sept. 11, 2001, was raised to half-staff as the national anthem was played. 

After the flag was raised, veterans, first responders and members of the public lined up to place carnations in the memorial sign placed out front of city hall.

Members of San Marcos Fire Department commemorate the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks during their annual stair climb, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at Bobcat Stadium. (Nichaela Shaheen)

Shayne Tucker, a volunteer during the stair climb, believes that continuing to discuss and remember 9/11 is important, especially as more people grow up without remembering what it was like on that day.

“Some people weren’t even born yet whenever it happened, so I think it is really important to keep continuing to talk about it and to remember everything that happened and just be thankful for those that have given their lives to others,” Tucker said. 

One of Hanks’ goals is to increase turnout to the two events, which he hopes will pass down the memory of 9/11 to more people. Hanks wants to achieve this goal by combining the two events into just one next year.

“We’re going to try and transfer [the flag raising] here to add maybe a couple more speeches with the mayor and Chief Stephens and maybe do a flower ceremony, so that’s going to help grow this event,” Hanks said.

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