I am blessed to be a part of the fire service and be involved with passionate leaders such as yourselves. Today I was fortunate to climb with my fellow firefighters 110 floors in Charlotte NC for the fourth year in a row.
However, this stairclimb was very different for me. Before we began I offered a prayer to the 9/11 committee members before we started to remind everyone why we were there.
Dear Lord, today we remember:
Each step we take is a birthday party they will never get to go to..
Each step we take is a another ball game they will miss…
Each step we take is another family dinner that one seat will remain empty…
Each step we take, we take not for ourselves but for them…
That day they didn’t hesitate and climbed on..
Today we climb and carry their names to the top.
Today we will hold our loved ones a little tighter…
Today we will share their stories with our friends…
Today we will shed drops of sweat where they sacrificed their lives…
Today the pain we experience is nothing like the pain those families that still grieve live with every day..
May we cherish each step.
May we not take our lives for granted..
May we not be complacent…
And may we never forget.
As we began, I climbed with an FDNY retired Captain by the name of Jeff Race. I carried Father Mychal Judges name tag. As we climbed Captain Race proceeded to tell me about 9/11. He was the Captain in charge of setting up the mobile hospitals at ground zero. As he was working, several of his guys came up to him and said “Hey Cap, we got a problem.” to which he responded “look up, I got a bigger one.”
They proceeded to explain that Father Mychal had just been killed and they didn’t want to leave him there.Captain Race told them to load him up in an ambulance and carry his body to his church. The firefighters did just that and laid his body in the church.
Here I am in Charlotte NC, climbing with Father Mychal’s name badge and the man climbing next to me was with him in his final moments.
He then proceeded to share stories with me as we climbed. What a truly humbling experience. Each step had more meaning as I listened to him and considered what he has been through.
This day, we should all take a moment and thank God for our blessings and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this day.
God Bless you all,
Andy J. Starnes