AUSTIN, Texas - This year marks the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks and traditional ceremonies held around Central Texas are a different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although things are different this year, members of the Austin Firefighters Association and the Austin Fire Department say it will not prevent them from honoring the lives of 343 firefighters lost on 9/11.
Firefighters will head to the Buford Tower on Town Lake to participate in the 110 flight stair climb. The climb is meant to simulate the heroic distance first responders had to travel inside the World Trade Center.
This year, firefighters will remain socially distant during their climb in groups of ten with several different time slots.
Batallion Chief Eddie Martinez with the Austin Fire Department says this day is especially important to him. He was among those deployed to help at Ground Zero back in 2001. Chief Martinez recalls being escorted by fighter jets into New York due to airspace restrictions following the attacks.
"I think about this, I would imagine more often than other people. You know, not only just being a firefighter but being a person that deployed there, and helped and searched voids and ultimately got sick from some of the things we were exposed to there. It's something that I think about a lot of the year," Chief Martinez says.
The Austin Police Department Pipe and Drum Corps, in conjunction with the Emergency Service Pipes and Drums Association, are also playing at the Texas State Cemetery in memory of all who lost their lives on 9/11.
Out of the 2,977 deaths that occurred, 412 were first responders who rushed to the towers to do their duty. APD says it will never forget the sacrifices the brave men and women gave to their community and to this nation.
The APD Pipe and Drum Corps have been honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, by playing pipe and drum for more than a decade.
Nationwide, September 11 has now been declared Patriot Day. All flags are ordered to fly at half-staff for the day.