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Remembering 9/11: Local firefighters keep the vigil 18 years later

2,977 people were killed. 343 of those people were firefighters. Today, firefighters in Southern Oregon are making sure those men and women are not forgotten.

Posted: Sep 11, 2019 3:48 AM
Updated: Sep 11, 2019 2:53 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Today marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

Two thousand nine hundred and seventy seven people were killed. And 343 of those people were firefighters. Today, firefighters in Southern Oregon are making sure those men and women are not forgotten. 

Firefighters at Medford Fire-Rescue remember that day vividly. Some said they wanted to run to New York to help their brothers and sisters that day. 

"I remember at 6 o'clock in the morning my captain came running down," said Captain David Ackles, from Medford Fire-Rescue. "He got up early and he came running down the hallway. He banged on our doors and said, 'You need to get out to the living room. America's changing right now.'"

Each year, Medford Fire-Rescue privately honors those 343 firefighters who were lost on 9/11. Firefighters put on their full uniform. That's about 50 pounds of gear. Then, they climb ten flights of stairs at the Rogue Valley Manor. Medford Fire-Rescue has been involved in this tradition since 2002. 

"This way, the fire service, the police service, the port authority can still remember what happened that day," said Ackles. "Or remember what was given that day. Because all was given that day by some."

This year, firefighters from all across Southern Oregon will be participating in the stair climb. Again, this is a private event. 

Firefighters said before 9/11, they came to work at a fire station for one reason -- to help people. This motivation didn't change after 9/11 and it spans across generations of firefighters. 

Hundreds of people have expressed interest in joining the Medford department since 9/11. Firefighters all go through training and dedicate their lives to putting out fires, big and small. Captain David Ackles said that 9/11 did not sway his passion for firefighting. 

"You've chosen that profession or it's chosen you," said Ackles. "You're going to live it the rest of your life. People don't typically get into this career and leave it right away. It's very few. You're really determined to get here. That didn't change what I wanted to do that day on 9/11. It made me want to be better at what I do."

If firefighting has chosen you, as Captain Ackles said, you should do some research. City departments handle different types of fires than rural departments. Above all, Captain Ackles said to dig deep and understand why you want to be a firefighter. 

Giving back to local fire departments

Medford Fire-Rescue said they do not need donations right now, but there are other ways you can help. 

If you are looking to give back today, you could donate to the National Fallen Firefighters Organization. It is a non-profit focused on honoring fallen firefighters and their families. You can make a donation in honor of anyone, even your local fire department. 

"In Medford, I think the best way we get supported is with a smile and a wave as we drive down the road realizing that we're there for them," said Ackles.

You can also give your local fire department a call. They will be able to tell you if they need donations or if you can volunteer in some way. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21488

Reported Deaths: 357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah496096
Washington311925
Marion293870
Umatilla230228
Clackamas154940
Malheur80414
Deschutes61110
Lane5903
Jackson4732
Yamhill46713
Lincoln4189
Union3942
Morrow3723
Jefferson3714
Polk31912
Linn28410
Klamath2012
Hood River1930
Wasco1923
Benton1696
Douglas1511
Josephine1152
Columbia970
Coos910
Clatsop850
Crook491
Baker400
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman160
Curry150
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 574231

Reported Deaths: 10476
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2105434998
Riverside41983820
Orange40527726
San Bernardino36072546
San Diego32975594
Kern24440171
Fresno17846171
Alameda13631209
San Joaquin12864223
Santa Clara12694205
Sacramento12040177
Tulare10862196
Stanislaus10264169
Imperial9693244
Contra Costa9404139
Ventura863492
San Francisco762367
Santa Barbara670469
San Mateo6318120
Merced573670
Monterey544635
Marin540481
Kings445356
Solano427441
Sonoma367047
Madera246339
Placer231922
San Luis Obispo225416
Yolo183444
Santa Cruz12436
Butte12388
Napa107411
Sutter9527
San Benito7654
El Dorado7552
Lassen6830
Yuba6464
Mendocino47210
Shasta45910
Colusa3914
Glenn3603
Nevada3571
Humboldt2864
Tehama2761
Lake2402
Amador1822
Mono1581
Tuolumne1553
Calaveras1471
Inyo1063
Siskiyou1020
Del Norte1000
Mariposa622
Plumas360
Modoc50
Trinity50
Sierra40
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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