SAN DIEGO --
Today does not need an intro. For nineteen years, Sept. 11 has become more than just another date on the calendar – it’s a day that has affected every American’s life in some way, shape, or form. ‘Never Forget,’ became a phrase strongly associated with the day and quite frankly, we have not. Marines from the 12th Marine Corps District showed a form of remembrance this morning at the San Diego Convention Center in an effort to pay homage to those we lost on that tragic day.
United States Marine Corps Cpl. Quentin K. Hadan and Cpl. Jackson K. Golz, both administration clerks assigned to the 12th Marine Corps District, began planning a 9/11 tribute physical training event on Sept. 9, 2020.
“Originally, we were just going to do a hike over by the ocean, but we asked ourselves, ‘Why are we going on a hike?’” said Hadan, a Funk, Neb., native. “Let’s just find some stairs.”
“It’s about coming together and everyone becoming stronger." Pfc. Daniel Martinez Jr., av 12th Marine Corps District administration clerk
First responders climbed 110 flights of stairs up one tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, which was approximately 2,226 steps. The young corporals located a stairwell at the San Diego Convention Center that contained 300 steps and would go up and down those stairs 23 times to simulate what those first responders did while wearing an additional 60 – 90 pounds in emergency and protective equipment.
As the Marines began preparing themselves for the training event at the bottom of the staircase, Cpl. Joneydy Jaime, a 12th Marine Corps District administration clerk, shared his experience of that day.
“He gave his personal experience on the whole event and how it happened because he was in the location – 25 miles from the towers,” explained Hadan. “He helped set in your head what the first responders went through.”
But not all the Marines present had a strong recollection of what occurred that day. U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Daniel Martinez Jr., an administration clerk assigned to the 12th Marine Corps District, was only a few months old in 2001.
“My history teachers would tell us stories, play videos and the phone calls that people made to their wives or their husbands,” said Martinez. “This was something that resonated with them when they were growing up; I didn’t have that.”
But regardless, the 19-year-old San Antonio, Texas, native gave everything he could during the tribute stair climb.
Photo by Sgt. Christian Oliver Cachola
A U.S. Marine runs up a flight of stairs during stair walk at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, Sept. 11.
“It’s about coming together and everyone becoming stronger,” said Martinez summarizing the event.
The oldest Marine present, Staff Sgt. Luke R. Keith, the career planner assigned to the 12th Marine Corps District, was inspired by the idea that the younger Marines were paying tribute through the stair climb.
“I think what they did brought a lot of value, unit cohesion, and unity and it made us remember what this day is about,” explained Keith. “Now that we’re adults and we see the gravity of it all, that adds a lot of emotion to it and what the Marines did was put that emotion into a physical sense so we feel it, so we can remember that we have first responders who did an amazing thing – a generation with very few heroes became a generation that would step up and become heroes.”
Keith expressed that there are many other ways of remembrance. It can be a stair climb as the Marines and thousands of individuals did all over the nation, or simply taking a moment of reflection for those who gave everything on that day and the conflict following it.
“We shouldn’t forget,” stated Keith. “Every year, we should remember in some way, shape or form, whether you take some time to yourself, whether it be in gospel, spirit, or if it takes having a few drinks, like how some people would do on their friend’s death anniversary. We shouldn’t forget because we lost so much.”