DALLAS — Firefighters representing 88 departments from four states climbed the stairs at Renaissance Tower in downtown Dallas Sunday morning to honor their fallen brothers.
Each firefighter was in full gear, carrying a photo of one of the 343 firefighters killed when the towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed ten years ago.
"They gave the ultimate sacrifice for the job that we love to do," said Dallas Fire Rescue firefighter, Michael Anderson. "This is our passion, but we all want to go home that is our goal so for those who didn't make, we want to remember them."
Firefighters from Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
The sacrifice of the fallen hits close to home for Doug Walters, a volunteer firefighter from the Spring Creek Fire Department in Parker County. The U.S. Marine who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan also helped days after the attacks cleaning up debris at ground zero.
"It's heartfelt, especially after being there and seeing the carnage that took place there, and to realize he was in there somewhere," said Walters, who was climbing in memory of New York City firefighter Peter Carroll.
"He never made it to the top, so we are going to take him to the top today," Walters said.
The event was physically and emotionally exhausting, but special tributes to bravery and sacrifice kept the firefighters motivated — from an officer playing Taps to alarms sounding at the times that the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
Marshall Leak, a participant, helped carry a hose, which represented the fallen.
"Everybody in this stairwell has had a part carrying this hose," said Leak. "That's brotherhood."
Families, friends and strangers greeted the men and women when they completed their mission.
"Oh, it's amazing! I'm just in awe at all of these firemen that are out here participating," said Virginia Keller, whose son, Flower Mound Fire Department Capt. Jody Bruce, was one of the climbers. "It's such an honor; it's an honor to be here with them!"
Lisa Walters, the wife of firefighter Doug Walters, was moved to tears.
"To look around and see 343 firemen standing around and to think that's how many we lost that day, it was just very impacting," she said.
They carried their memory to the top and brought home the living legacy of these 9/11 heroes.