SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — For the last four years on September 11 the South Walton Fire District has been honoring the hundreds of firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 with a memorial 3.43 mile run.
An emotional tribute was given by SWFD Saturday morning honoring the lives of the 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.
“You know we lost 343 firefighters on that tragic day along with nearly 3000 souls,” said SWFD Chief, Ryan Crawford. “And this is our way as the South Walton Fire District to bring some honor and remembrance to those folks to the tragic events that happened 20 years ago — we don’t want our community to forget that.”
Some ran in full gear while others carried meaningful items like a fire hose with the names of all 343 firefighters who were gone too soon.
Crawford said the memorial run is a good opportunity for their agency to grow together.
“It’s just a really good opportunity for us to share not only in the remembrance and honor of those that we lost 20 years ago, but also looking forward at us as an organization as we grow,” Crawford said.
Fire Marshal, Sammy Sanchez, recalls watching the attacks on TV and feeling like he needed to be at work.
“It’s a firefighter thing,” Sanchez said. “It’s hard to explain. But I felt like I needed to be there even though we’re you know a thousand miles from New York, the need to be around my brothers and sisters was strong so I just came in. I don’t even remember what I did that day — other than just to be there with them as we watched the events unfold.”
Sanchez said Saturday’s memorial helps paint a picture of what people were going through on 9/11.
“Listening to the general announcement, you know puts things into perspective of what those folks were doing that day and why we’re here again to honor and pay tribute to them,” Sanchez said.