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Omaha remembers service and sacrifice of first responders killed during September 11 attacks

The Nebraska chapter of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation held their annual 9/11 stair climb at Werner Park.
Posted at 10:56 AM, Sep 11, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Step by step, on Saturday morning Omaha remembered the service and sacrifice of the more than 400 first responders who died during the September 11 attacks.

Hundreds gathered at Werner Park, despite the morning rain, to honor the firefighters and other first responders who didn't come home that day.

Organizer David Yelovich with the Nebraska chapter of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation held an annual 9/11 stair climb to honor the 343 firefighters who were lost that day.

"We said we'd never forget," Yelovich said. “It’s awesome.”

Climbers walked up and down each bleacher set at the park to represent the 110 stories firefighters climbed on September 11.

Michael Prucha, a 23-year-old firefighter with the Irvington Fire Department, was only two years old on September 11, 2001. He doesn't remember that day, but the stories he's heard in the years since inspired him to follow in their footsteps.

"My father's a firefighter,” Prucha said. “I've grown up hearing about it through him, so I just wanted to honor the men and women who've served on that day.”

Prucha and his fellow firefighters walked the stair climb in full gear, a task he said was nowhere near as difficult as it was for those who went in the towers.

"Nothing can really prepare you for the challenge that day brought and just the emotions that come with it,” he said.

Climber Dwight Cole, said he was happy to take part in the, and added that more needs to be done to remember 9/11.

"Only 21 years ago and it seems like we've forgot a lot of it,” Cole said. “We need to build that back."

At the end of the climb, each person rang a firefighter bell and read aloud the name of a first responder who died in the attacks.

"We ring the bell and say their name to remember them so that way everybody's represented,” Yelovich said. “They didn't get to go home, but they're not forgotten."

Cole said it's important to remember their sacrifice no matter what day is on the calendar.

"Let's just continue to remember, not just today but throughout the year.”

Proceeds from Saturday’s stair climb will go help families of first responders killed in the line of duty.

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