SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — More than 1,200 miles separate the panhandle from Manhattan, New York.  

Even 22 years after the Twin Towers were attacked, the South Walton Fire District (SWFD) is making sure their staff and locals remember what happened.

SWFD hosted the 343 memorial run, 3.43 miles to remember the 343 first responders who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.  

“It’s part of American history. It’s part of firefighting history. We do have some young firefighters that just started with us, and they weren’t around when this happened,” said Sammy Sanchez, SWFD Fire Marshal   

Leaders at the SWFD can recall the day of the attacks in detail. 

“So I was working for the City of Lynn Haven as a firefighter, and we were doing some training drills outside. And I remember one individual coming out and mentioning that an aircraft hit the World Trade Center. Of course, I think all of us felt like that, you know, a small plane, something like that. We never were able to wrap our heads around something like what ended up happening” said SWFD Fire Chief Ryan Crawford.

Chief Crawford said he was glued to the television after the second plane struck the towers that morning, watching the heroic actions of the firefighters.   

“I think a lot of us knew that those towers were going to come down. And yet you still saw first responders kind of going in there doing what they’ve been sworn to do, trying to save as many lives as they could,” said Crawford. 

SWFD hosts the memorial run each year. This year moving from 30A to a steamy U.S. HWY 331 for more exposure. 

“Every time you thought you might just want to take a break, somebody from the community would honk the horn. And that showed us that they still remember and they appreciate what we’re doing and that it just keeps you going,” said Sanchez. 

Chief Crawford said another 341 firefighters have died since 2001 as a result of helping rescue people from the Sept. 11 attacks.