Anyone old enough to remember September 11, 2001, can recall where they were and what they were doing when planes hijacked by terrorists slammed into the World Trade Center. On Saturday, 20 years after that fateful day, they can pay their respects at the 2021 Knoxville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at the Sunsphere, Worlds Fair Park.
The stair climb is held annually to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Fund and to commemorate the sacrifice made by the firefighters and first responders who lost their lives on Sept. 11. The event is hosted locally by SERVPRO of Loudon and Roane Counties, SERVPRO of Hamblen County and SERVPRO of Rocky Hill, Sequoyah Hills, and South Knoxville. The company specializes in residential and commercial cleanup and restoration following a fire, smoke or water damage.
Tammy Roberts, vice president of client success for SERVPRO, said organizers of the event are wanting 343 climbers — local firefighters, police officers, military, ROTC members and others — to climb the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs at the Sunsphere to signify the number of flights in the World Trade Center towers. Three hundred forty-three firefighters lost their lives there that day, she said. As of late Thursday, about 300 climbers were committed to the event.
The day starts early, with registration beginning at 7:15 a.m. After a prayer, the presentation of the Colors, the singing of the national anthem, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon will speak, followed by Knoxville Fire Chief Stan Sharp, retired Marine Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson and U.S. Congressman Tim Burchett. Taps will be played and the Powell High School chorus will perform. Then bagpipes will play as climbers complete their climbs, carrying with them a lanyard with the photo and badge number of the fallen firefighter they represent. Upon completion, they will ring a bell and say that firefighter’s name so that he or she is not forgotten, Roberts said.
“It’s a very solemn, very meaningful event,” she said. “We hope students and families will come down and watch.” First responders will also be recognized at the UT football game later in the day.
Roberts said Kristina Greenway, who with her husband John owns the SERVPRO franchise hosting the event, obtained the charter to bring the stair climb to Knoxville seven years ago. “We clean up fires, and we see what firefighters and first responders go through. It’s a way to give back to the community,” she said. “We are proud to remember those heroes on Sept. 11.”
To register, click here. More info is on Facebook at 2021 NKKK Knoxville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.