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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Climbing to remember

Bryan+Firefighter+Luke+Aneillo+catches+his+breath+on+the+rooftop+of+the+Varisco+Building+in+full+gear.
Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens

Bryan Firefighter Luke Aneillo catches his breath on the rooftop of the Varisco Building in full gear.

First responders and community members climbed 110 stories at the 7th annual memorial stair climb to honor first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.
Participants from the Texas A&M Police Department, Bryan Police Department and other agencies repeatedly climbed the stairs of the Varisco Building to reach their total of 110 stories, mirroring the number of stories in the World Trade Center.
Bryan Fire Department Chaplain Ernest Upchurch wore a wallet sized photo of Fire Department Chaplain Mychal Judge, who was the first to die on scene in the 2001 attacks.
“[Judge] never made it inside, he actually died outside from debris that fell on him,” Upchurch said. “As the Chaplain of the fire department, he gave everything. That’s my goal: to give these guys everything that I can so they’ll know they have support, too.”
Bryan Battalion Chief Jordan Gallagher said the climb is ultimately a way to carry on the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11.
“A lot of us will carry cards of people who died [to symbolize] finishing that climb for them since they never got to finish it and come home,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said he wants people who do not have personal memories of 9/11 to understand the event’s significance.
“Everybody has the stories; everybody remembers where they were,” Gallagher said. “As the younger generations coming up, like my son for example, he wasn’t alive when this happened, so it’s just another story in the history book. We just kind of want to keep it on the front of people’s minds.”
Wearing a Sept. 11, 2001 button on her collar and a silver fireman pendant necklace she received from a New York firefighter who survived 9/11, Bryan resident Carol Kimbrough-Clarkson watched outside as her son, a Bryan firefighter, participated in the climb.
“I feel an attachment I guess you’d say to all of that,” Kimbrough-Clarkson said. “Of course I’ll never forget.”
Kimbrough-Clarkson said her memories of 9/11 include the phone call she received from her son, who was serving in the Marine Corps at the time, telling her the country was going to war.
“I wouldn’t want our children to ever go through that, but I’m sorry they don’t know the true impact of what it was,” Kimbrough-Clarkson said. “The shock, the crying, the trauma. I had been out feeding horses in the barn. My husband, who had cancer, walked in the door and said, ‘Come here, come here,’ and I just had to sit down and then immediately my son called me.”
Dallas Shipp, brand manager for Daniel Stark Law and Class of 2003, said he was honored to support the Bryan Fire Department and to be a part of memorializing those who died.
“I think no matter where you were, you’ll always remember where you were,” Shipp said. “For us to have a small part in supporting our local first responders in their efforts to remember the ones that were lost in 9/11, it’s just a special thing for us to be able to be a part of.”
Shipp said he was in his apartment with his roommate when they heard the news during his junior year at Texas A&M. Shipp said many of his friends considered joining the military because of the attack.
“I was in my apartment in college with my roommate and we just sat there and watched it,” Shipp said. “Just shock, really. You never expect for something like that to happen.”
Fibertown Data Center owns the Varisco Building and has provided it as a space for the annual memorial. Director of Fibertown Sam White said he was working on an airline flying over the pacific on 9/11 when he was called in to land and the airspace system was shut down.
“We have a great relationship with the city of Bryan and the Bryan Fire Department and were happy to provide the space, these stairs, for them to do the stair climb every year,” White said. “I think 9/11 weighs deep in all of our hearts, and as we get [17 years] out, people tend to forget what that morning was like. It’s just wonderful that these firefighters honor all of the dead by doing the stair climb every year and we’re happy to host it.”

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  • Jason James of the Bryan Police Department waited by the entrance of the Varisco Building to begin the stair climb.

    Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens
  • Participants of the 7th annual stair climb pose for a photo before beginning their trek up 110 stories.

    Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens
  • Chris Vickers, Whitehall firefighter, takes a short break on the roof with fellow participants.

    Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens
  • Bryan Firefighter Jacob Zoch prepared his son for the stair climb.

    Photo by Photo by Savannah Mehrtens
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