Florida Divers Honor 9/11 by Draping American Flag Across Sunken WWII Relic

by Josh Lanier

There were tributes to the 9/11 attacks all over the country on Saturday. And at least one of those memorials took place underwater.

In Florida, a group of divers paid their respects at a sunken World War II-era ship off the coast of Key West. There, they unfurled a 1,200-foot American flag beneath the waves. Divers connected the flag to the highest point of the USNS Gen Hoyt S Vandenberg. That is about 60 feet below the water’s surface, Fox 13 reported.

The flag measured 30-feet wide and 40-feet long on the 9/11 anniversary.

Officials sank the Vandenberg in 2009 for about $8 million, Fox News said. They’d hoped it would attract tourists who would want to dive and see the vessel up close.

Firefighters Climb 110 Stories To Honor 9/11 Dead

There were national moments of remembering the tragedies of 9/11, but the most poignant is the annual stair climb that takes place across the country.

First responders around the country get together on every 9/11 anniversary to climb 110 flights of stairs in full gear. That’s the number of floors that Twin Towers each had. Firefighters on 9/11 had to climb those stairs against a press of scared people to reach the injured and trapped on the upper floors. More than 340 firefighters died in the terrorist attack. It’s the largest loss of first responders’ lives in a single event in American history.

Ronald Jon Siarnick the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation executive director, said the climb is symbolic of their brotherhood. Each firefighter carries the photo of someone who died on 9/11 with them up the stairs.

“We pay tribute to all of the first responders who died, especially the 343 members of the (Fire Department of New York) and all the efforts that are out there to never forget,” Chief Ron Siarnicki said. “Each person who climbs carries a plastic tag that has the name and photograph of one of the 343. But since then, people have added other first responders, people who have influenced their life, people that they want to climb in memory of. And it’s a way to show our respect that we’re never going to forget as a nation.”

The 9/11 event raises money for the foundation.

“It provides the revenue that’s needed to help the families who are trying to put their lives back together, who are going down that traumatic loss and building upon what’s happened,” Siarnicki said.

Others said the climb reminds first responders of the burden they take on with their jobs. Lt. Justin Brown of the Aurora Police Department participated in the climb along with firefighters and other first responders.

“It re-establishes that oath, it’s kinda like reestablishing your marriage vows, you know, every once in a while,” he said. “It’s just a reminder, and a good yearly reminder, of why I chose this job.”