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A spirit that is not afraid

ROTC to host third annual 9/11 memorial stair climb in Jordan-Hare

<p>Members of Auburn University's ROTC participate in 2022's 9/11 memorial stair climb.</p>

Members of Auburn University's ROTC participate in 2022's 9/11 memorial stair climb.

On Monday, Sept. 11, exactly 22 years after tragedy struck the nation as four coordinated terrorist attacks took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, Auburn University’s Air Force ROTC is hosting a memorial stair climb to honor and remember the first responders who sacrificed their lives while trying to save others.

While this event is hosted by the University’s Air Force ROTC, they extended an invitation to the Navy and Army ROTCs, the Auburn Police Department, the Auburn Fire Department and university athletics teams to get up for the 6 a.m. stair climb in Jordan-Hare Stadium

“[We usually do it] around the anniversary, but we’re lucky enough to be able to do it on the actual day [this year],” said Gordon O’Donnell, junior in mechanical engineering and member of Air Force ROTC.

Even though the event is limiting attendance this year, O’Donnell said they hope to open it to a larger crowd in the future. The event is still in its infancy and new ideas are still be tested, as this is only the event’s third year in operation.

“I think it’s important to bring awareness because a lot of people, like, obviously people know about 9/11, but for the current generation – like the current senior class – was born in 2001 [when 9/11 happened], so this is a good way to bring attention to it for our generation,” O’Donnell said. 

Despite the stair climb being so early in the morning, O’Donnell said the atmosphere is much more vibrant and alive than most other places on campus at that time. Before the climb begins, O’Donnell said that someone or some group – this year O’Donnell said it would likely be someone from AFD – would speak for a moment to get people in the right mindset for the actual climb.

“It’s up bright and early at 6 o’clock, but people are awake there,” O’Donnell said. “We don’t want people to be miserable climbing stairs, but we want them to understand [what the first responders that day went through].”

O’Donnell said while remembering the lives lost on 9/11 was at the forefront of the day, he noted that everyone participating had their own reason for completing the challenge. He said some people would be there to prove to themselves physically and mentally, that they could complete this challenge and complete it well, while others may just want to do their best and push their boundaries.

“Everybody is putting in work,” O’Donnell said.

At the center of it all, O’Donnell said the event was a chance to help deepen the understanding of this generation towards what first responders dealt with on 9/11.

“I hope it helps our generation understand the sacrifice that the firefighters and first responders and everyone who helped out at that time and what they really went through and how much effort they had to put in to save people,” O’Donnell said.

Tucker Massey | Content Editor

Tucker Massey, junior in journalism, is the content editor for The Auburn Plainsman.

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