IOWA PARK (KFDX/KJTL) — On this 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Iowa Park volunteer firefighters honored the thousands of lives lost in a special way: with a memorial walk around Gordon Lake in full bunker gear.
Iowa Park volunteer firefighters said this walk meant so much to them because it was a chance to honor their fallen brothers and sisters the best way they knew how.
Firefighters like volunteer Steve Thorton said there’s not a day that goes by that they don’t think of those first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.
“These are two of the units that went down in the towers from FDNY,” Thorton said. “They founded a stair climb; me and a couple of guys were going to go, but we couldn’t make that stair climb, but I made sure to bring the patch today because this is exactly why we’re doing it because they were stuck in those towers with no way out and still fighting to go up as they were going down.”
Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department Chief Andy Payne said it’s for reasons like those touching stories that he had to plan a memorial walk to honor those lives lost.
“It makes me feel sad because I feel like it’s lost,” Payne said. “Nobody really memorializes it anymore like they used to when it first happened. This being the 20th anniversary, I thought we really needed to do something.”
That something was a four lap memorial walk around Gordon Lake in their full bunker gear, which weighs just over 100 pounds.
“It feels pretty good to be out here and do four laps around the lake,” Iowa Park firefighter Clint Downs said. “It’s kind of like we’re put in those other peoples’ shoes, but not quite in those peoples shoes, but it’s nice to be out here to stand up for those people and the lives that we lost.”
Iowa Park City Manager Jerry Flemming attended as well and said events like these will continue to keep the legacy of those fallen firefighters alive.
“It’s very important for our young people because those of us who are north of twenty can’t fathom not remembering it, and there are lots of young people, even here today, the JROTC marching around the lake, those young people can’t remember it, but they understand the importance of it,” Flemming said.
Firefighters like Thorton say 9/11 is what influenced them to join the fire department.
“We got brought into the fire service young, right out of high school, due to 9/11 it seemed,” Thorton said.
Payne said he wants to make sure people never forget those 343 firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others.
“They will be gone, but never forgotten,” Payne said. “We lost 343 brothers and sisters that day, and we never forget them.”
Payne, Downs, Flemmings, and Thorton hope this event highlights the heroism of those who risked it all for the nation on that fateful day.
Payne said he hopes to make this memorial walk an annual event to always honor the thousands of victims from 9/11.