MANITOU SPRINGS — 343 New York Fire Department first responders died on September 11, 2001. 20 years later, a grueling local tradition continues to honor the lives lost that day.
In Southern Colorado, that sacrifice will always be remembered, with a tradition bringing together firefighters from across the country to hike the Manitou Incline in their honor.
The Twin Towers both stood at 110 stories tall, and the Manitou Incline is nearly 3,000 steps. "We don't have Twin Towers out here. So, Manitou Incline was the closest thing that I thought was comparable... We're carrying them up, we're finishing their climb for them. We're bringing them with us, letting them know we know they're watching over us every day," said RJ Gerry, the organizer of the climb.
Gerry had the idea to start the tradition in 2014, and it began with only three people. On Saturday, more than one hundred people were present.
One of them was Denise Flory, who was active duty on September 11, 2001. She, along with others, was tasked with trying to locate one of the aircrafts involved in the attacks. "Each year is a little bit more healing I think. Coming out and doing the incline with the firefighters is definitely helpful... You have the memories that you have, and they stick with you for life," said Flory.
Gerry said they will be planning another climb next year.