Vermont first responders commemorate Sept. 11

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Ceremonies around the country today commemorated the 18th anniversary of Sept. 11.

Our Christina Guessferd takes you to one ceremony in Vermont to remember the lives lost 18 years ago.

The day's events started with the second annual stair climb at the Burlington International Airport. Local first responders stepped into the shoes of the people who stepped up that day by making the ultimate sacrifice.

From the first floor to the sixth, first responders climbed a stairwell at the Burlington International Airport 18 times, representing the 110 stories of the World Trade Center towers.

"Honored to be part of that," said Alexis Fojo of the South Burlington Fire Department.

"It's about remembering, it's about the effort, it's about the team. It's easy to do when you have a lot of good people next to you going through what you're going through," said Brannon Soter of the Vt. National Guard Fire Department.

And just like it was on September 11, 2001, quitting wasn't an option.

"This particular event is extremely physically demanding, not only the weight of the equipment but controlling your body temperature and battling mental and physical exhaustion-- pushing yourself to the point where you think you can't go any further," South Burlington Fire Lt. Bradley Dattilio.

"Everybody at some point hits that wall, and that's where we all come in and pick each other up," Soter said.

"The words of encouragement of the people as you're passing on the stairwell, the pats on the back, the, 'Hey, you got it!' Fojo said.

Pressing forward-- together-- one step at a time.

"It's very powerful, this day, anyways, but to see this partnership and to see their commitment is just fantastic," said Nic Longo, the deputy director of aviation at the Burlington International Airport. "As an airport official, we have to constantly remind ourselves so that we don't become complacent with security or safety, remind ourself what is the best way to do this, what is the safest way."

"It's a day that changed not only the airline industry but the world that we live in," said Dana Feitelberg of the Burlington International Airport.

Long-time airport employees recalled that fateful day.

"You bonded immediately, and you could read each other's minds and you knew that you had to work together to get through this, and we all went to work," Feitelberg said.

Work that resulted in the security systems we see today.

"There is an extreme reason why these rules and regulations are in place, and it is something that everyone needs to remember," Feitelberg said.

"I was one of the last generations to actually have a memory of it, so I think it's important to keep that alive and to never forget and to teach that to generations behind us," said Gabriel Cummings of the South Burlington Fire Department.

The day's events conclude with a memorial at Overlook Park in South Burlington at 7 p.m.