Annual stair climb at Tower of the Americas stirs up memories of 9/11

More than 500 first responders participated in memorial event

SAN ANTONIO – With every step they took, more than 500 first responders in San Antonio set out to honor their counterparts who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

They took part in the annual San Antonio 110 9/11 Memorial Climb at the Tower of the Americas Monday morning.

The event, which is in its tenth year, involves participants climbing all 65 flights of stairs inside the tower twice. This is to allow them to come as close as possible to the 110 flights of stairs that firefighters in New York climbed on that fateful day.

Participants climbed all 65 flights of stairs twice. They were simulating the 110 flights their counterparts in New York climbed on that fateful day. (KSAT 12 News)

“If you weren’t involved or somehow had a tie to 9/11, then this is a way to give back to the community that showed support,” said Michael Jones.

Although he is retired from the U. S. Army, Jones wanted to take part in the climb.

He remembers 9/11 as a bittersweet day. Amid all the loss of life, his daughter was born.

“I came back home and rushed my wife to the hospital,” he said. “She went into labor.”

Joseph Garcia showed up wearing a hat and T-shirt emblazoned with New York logos.

The lifelong Texan says he empathizes with the loss that city experienced.

“I remember seeing that, and being awakened by mother when I was living in Austin. We just could not believe what was happening,” he said.

For other participants, the memories of that day 22 years ago are non-existent because like Tyler Logue, they weren’t even born yet.

Logue now serves as a firefighter in Kerrville, a career he chose, in part because of 9/11.

“My dad, he’s been a firefighter for 27 years so that had a big impact on it. But this definitely had an impact on it too,” he said. “It’s really just about honoring those who came before me and just, kind of, showing respect.”

Irenee Logenbaugh, who came to support him, agreed.

“It’s an honor to be here, watching everybody do this today,” Logenbaugh said. “It just, kind of, like, hits home for everyone.”

At the end of the climb, each participant rang a bell and announced the name of one of the fallen. (KSAT 12 News)

Many of the first responders wore pictures of the fallen firefighters and police officers on lanyards around their necks.

At the end of the climb, they read out the names of the dead and rang a bell, signaling that their work was done but the sacrifices made would not be forgotten.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Santiago Esparza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.