MIAMI COUNTY — With the victims’ names and photos around their necks, nearly 150 participants made the climb up and down the Troy Memorial Stadium bleachers Sunday to remember those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The first Troy Memorial Freedom Climb honored those who climbed the nearly 2,000 steps to the top of the World Trade Center during 9/11 attacks nearly 16 years ago. Participants climbed the stadium stairs 64 times for a total of 1,980 steps to represent the height of the towers at the World Trade Center.
Event coordinators challenged those who were finishing their walk or climb to walk an extra lap in remembrance of those who died in the World Trade Centers, Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field that day 16 years ago.
The attack killed approximately 2,997 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
With American flags lining the top of the stadium, city of Troy Mayor Michael Beamish opened the event Sunday afternoon.
“Look around at all the American flags around this stadium — isn’t that a beautiful sight? We can never forget that freedom is not free,” Beamish said.
Beamish later thanked all the participants for sharing their time and patriotism with the community.
“Patriotism is alive and well in Troy and in Miami County and in this great country we live in — the great United States of America,” Beamish said.
Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons the Troy Police Department’s Sgt. Joe Stutz for coordinating the event as a way to remember those who lost their lives.
“I think it’s a very, very good thing for everyone to come together as a community for this nation,” Simmons said.
The keynote speaker, Congressman Warren Davidson, remembered where he was the day of the Sept. 11 attacks at West Troy Tool and Machine, his family’s business.
Davidson recalled the song “Have You Forgotten” by country music artist Darryl Worley and said, “I think that’s the challenge of every 9/11, have you forgotten? I think anyone of any age, grade school and up probably hasn’t forgotten what happened that day.”
Davidson closed with words of the sacrifice of those fighting overseas to protect the American way of life in the armed forces.
“What we know for sure is that it didn’t bankrupt us morally, it united us,” Davidson said. “When we think of those moments that brought us together and made us realize that things that divide us are far fewer and far less consequential than those that unite us, we are the best that we can be.
“We are the country, the nation of men and women — like these firefighters here in Troy, like those in New York City, like our men and women in uniform who serve around the world — we are the best that we can be. The best among us that would give anything to save our people, our way of life, up to and including sacrificing their own lives,” he said.
Davidson closed by thanking the first responders and armed forces for their daily service and sacrifice and for serving with compassion and professionalism.
All proceeds will go to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Troy Police Auxiliary and the Troy Fire Department.
The event was sponsored by Abbey Credit Union, Kettering Health Network, Anytime Fitness, Storypoint, Optimist International, Krogers, Troy Board of Education, Troy City Schools and Can’t Stop Running.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews