U ROTC cadets remember 9/11 with memorial stair climb

In the early hours of the morning on Sept. 10, 2021, more than 100  University of Utah’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) midshipmen and cadets gathered at Rice-Eccles Stadium in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks. At 5:45 a.m. they stood at attention, saluting the flag as the national anthem rang out over a mostly empty stadium.

“On this, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we ask our U community to continue to remember and honor the lives lost that day and in the years that have followed,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kyle R. Chase, United States Marine Corps, assistant marine officer instructor, University of Utah NROTC. “Many of our midshipmen and cadets were born after 2001 and have lived their lives in the shadow of that day. May we all never forget.”

The ROTC midshipmen and cadets in attendance were asked to reflect on the importance of remembering this day during a brief program. A reading of the timeline of that fateful day began with American Airlines Flight 11 taking off at 7:59 a.m. EST and ended at 12:16 p.m. EST after both the North and South Towers had collapsed, New York City was ordered to evacuate and U.S. airspace was closed.

The program included a reading of the following:

  • In total, 2977 people were killed and more than 6000 injured.
  • The Fire Department of the city of New York (FDNY) lost its department chief, first deputy commissioner, one marshal, one chaplain, as well as other administrative or specialty personnel.
  • 75 firehouses lost at least one or more firefighters.
  • 121 engine companies, 62 ladder companies and 27 fire officers were deployed to the World Trade Center. All off-duty firefighters were recalled—the first time the FDNY had issued a total recall in over 30 years.
  • The FDNY also deployed its only Haz-Mat unit, its mobile command center, its field communications unit, all five of its rescue units, both of its high-rise units, six of its seven squad units and one of its two tactical support units.
  • 23 Police officers died during the attacks.
  • 241 Police officers have died since the attacks as a result of 9/11 related illnesses.
  • 343 of New York's Bravest firefighters lost their lives that day.
  • Since the 9/11 attacks, 7,070 service members have been killed in action.

With these solemn reminders at the forefront of their thoughts, the midshipmen and cadets then began their climb. They started on the field in the southeast corner of the stadium and walked up and down the staircase in each section of the stadium. Moving in a counterclockwise pattern around the bowl, each participant completed their 110-flight route on the west side of the stadium.

“The labored breathing of those who completed the challenge was a testament the heroic actions of first responders and civilians who gave their lives for others on 9/11,” said Chase. "Their sacrifice has not been forgotten, and through honoring their memory, we remind ourselves of the values we hope to foster as a community."

While this inaugural event was not open to the public, organizers hope this will become a lasting tradition for years to come and that future events will allow community members to attend and participate if they would like.

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University of Utah students can find support services at the Veterans Support Center.

View photos from the event below.