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Firefighters climb in remembrance of 10th anniversary of 9/11

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To remember the 343 firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Prince William County firefighters joined ranks to hold what they called the Manassas 9/11 Stair Climb.

Hosted by the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, the stair climb brought local firefighters and others (from such armed services as the U.S. Marine Corps) to “climb 110 stories in memory of the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center,” according to a press release.

Jenny Holden, an emergency medical technician and treasurer for the volunteer staff at the Stonewall Jackson department, helped plan the event. She said the idea stemmed from a Denver squad’s similar remembrance effort on the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. Similar climbs have been held elsewhere.

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Holden said she and a few other planners conducted a trial run of the climb, which was held at the nine-story office building, Sudley Tower, at 7900 Sudley Road in Manassas. Broad Street Realty donated the building for this climb. Holden said the firefighters, most of whom were in full gear, climbed the tower 12 times. The gear weighs between 60 and 70 lbs.

The building only has room for about 114 climbers, which is roughly a third of the number who died, Holden explained. Although a final count wasn’t yet available, there appeared to be at least that many people on site.

Firefighters from across the county come together to remember their fallen comrades. Holden said four local career firefighters from the county joined the many volunteers. Volunteers came to Manassas from Stonewall as well as Nokesville; Occoquan, Woodbridge and Lorton; and elsewhere in the county. Holden said a few people came to the climb from Alexandria and Arlington as well.

All of the participants made a donation, which will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (, which provides assistance to surviving families of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.  Corporate sponsors chipped in as well.

The 10th anniversary Manassas 9/11 Stair Climb will be held Sept. 11, started at 8:46 a.m. The climb continued until the participants had finished their climb, exhausted from the effort. The men and women who participated struggled up and down the stairs. They persevered; they knew their conditions were better than those of the firefighters who lost their lives in the rubble and debris of Sept. 11, 2001.

A website, was c,reated to provide information about the event.

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Holden, who’s been a volunteer at the station for almost three years, said she believes this is the first time a climb of this sort has been held in the county and in Northern Virginia.

That fateful day a decade ago was “a really significant day for the entire country, especially for the firefighters,” she noted.

It’s important, she said, for us never to forget “to keep the memories alive and fresh.”

Photos by Kathy Sansone.

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