Friday, September 11, 2015

Mids Run 110-Flight Stair Climb to Honor FDNY Firefighters

By MIDN 1/C Ginny Burger

It takes five sets of stairs for midshipmen from 10th Company to get to their rooms.  They live on the uppermost floor of Bancroft Hall, the Naval Academy dormitory, and are very familiar with the struggle of making it up the stairs after a long day.  

However, despite this familiarity, they can still invoke reverence and importance into the ritual of the 9/11 Stair Climb.

Photo by MIDN 3/C Mac Glassford

In 2005, a group of Colorado firefighters began the tradition of the 9/11 Stair Climb, which honors the FDNY firefighters killed during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  Since then, the 9/11 Stair Climb has spread across the nation.  

Each climb, no matter where it is held, consists of an upward climb of 110 flights of stairs, representing the 110 flights it took to get to the top of each of the World Trade Center towers.

Photo by MIDN 3/C Mac Glassford

In the fall of 2013, Alex Cinq Mars, then a 3rd Class Midshipman, decided to start the tradition at the Naval Academy.  The academy hosts several events on the Yard annually in remembrance of 9/11, but for Cinq Mars, this was a more personal tribute.

“I wanted to do this my youngster year to honor the brothers who trained me to be a volunteer firefighter at the Goose Creek Volunteer Fire Department, in South Carolina,” he said.

This personal tribute, combined with the preservation of the memory of all FDNY firefighters who answered the call on September 11, continued to grow over the last two years.

“Our first year, we only had a handful – maybe 12 or 15 people – run the stair climb.  Most were from 10th Company,” said Cinq Mars.

Considering the busy schedule of midshipmen, the climb always takes place early in the morning, usually around 5:30. Many midshipmen already have prior engagements at that time – varsity sports practice, physical training events, and watch standing responsibilities.  

“Last year, word got out, and we had even more volunteers – probably around 25 – most still from 10th Company.” 

Photo by MIDN 3/C Mac Glassford

This year, 30 people from 10th Company were present, in addition to other midshipmen from throughout the Brigade.  Some varsity teams, such as Navy Women’s Rowing, participated in the climb in lieu of their standard morning practice.  

Cinq Mars led his fellow midshipmen in 22 laps from the top floor of Bancroft, to the basement, and back, in order to complete the requisite 110 flights of stairs. They may walk up and down these stairs daily, but today there was extra meaning behind each step, less complaining when they saw exactly how many flights were left, and more respect for those who selflessly gave their lives to save others 14 years ago.

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