We Are All United
I am a volunteer firefighter in Franktown, Colorado. Last week I went with several other members of my department to participate in a 9-11 memorial stair climb of the Denver Qwest building. This climb had several purposes: to challenge ourselves both physically and mentally, to demonstrate our readiness to respond to emergencies, and most importantly, to remember and pay tribute to the firefighters lost at the World Trade Center. Three hundred and three firefighters participated in this climb, most wearing full bunker gear and carrying high rise hose packs and forcible entry tools. We climbed the stairs of the Qwest building twice, for a total of 110 stories, the same height that the World Trade Center buildings were. I fully expected the climb to be a grueling ordeal, but I was not prepared for the emotional impact it would have on me and my fellow firefighters. As we climbed, each of us carried a picture and name of a fallen firefighter who died that day. This picture helped connect us to individuals we were there to honor. Before the start of the climb, we were asked to reach and contact family members of the individual whose name and pictures were carried.
I carried the name and face of Stephen Russell from Engine Co. 55. I could contact the FDNY but I chose to start my search on the internet. I found an article you wrote for the Rockaway newspaper, published November 3, 2001. This story allowed my to get a glimpse of the life of Stephen Russell and brought the sense of loss and tragedy closer to me.