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Waco veteran honors 9/11 first responders

Posted at 12:13 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 13:27:28-04

WACO, Texas — A touching tribute to the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 will take place in Waco this Saturday.

It's an opportunity for everyone to take part in climbing stairs just like firefighters did right after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

Just off the picturesque Brazos River, where the water is like glass as the sun rises over Cameron Park in Waco, you'll find Jacob's Ladder tucked beneath the oak trees.

"When we were little younger, we would climb up there, slide and run try to run down it," Rachael Hernandez said.

It's nearly 100 very steep steps to the top of the bluff.

"As soon as you get it up there it really makes you sweat. It really gets your heart rate up, gets your blood flowing," Daisy Nwosu told 25 News while visiting Waco from New York City. She was in high school in the Big Apple when the terror attacks unfolded.

"My mom used to work in the World Trade Center. So, she actually didn't go to work that day," Nwosu said.

Her mom was running late and decided to stay home, with a stroke of luck, avoiding being caught in the deadliest attack ever on U.S. soil.

"I'm very thankful that my mom decided not to go to work that day," Nwosu said.

Like everyone else, Nwosu remembers exactly where she was when the planes hit the Twin Towers, changing her life forever.

"One of my teachers, his wife worked there," Nwosu said. "It was very hard for us for a very long time. I was scared, didn't want to sleep. I just kept thinking everything bad was going to happen."

Marine Corps Veteran Rolando Hernandez, stationed in Okinawa, Japan on that fateful day, was unable to call home when the news broke.

"It was scary," the Commandant of the Heart of Texas 975 Marine Corps League told 25 News.

Hernandez would later deploy in the initial invasion of Iraq, the whole time keeping in mind the first responders who ran towards danger at Ground Zero.

"Our heroes, they charged those stairs," Hernandez said. "That's something that I want people to remember."

Hernandez would go on to organize the Waco Memorial 9/11 Stair Climb at Cameron Park, now in its third year. With each step taken up Jacob's Ladder this weekend, he hopes you'll never forget​ the roughly 400 first responders who gave up their lives to help others.

"The sacrifice that these guys made is unimaginable," Hernandez said.

Members of the Heart of Texas 975 Marine Corps League will hit the stairs at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Everyone is invited to take part and it is free to attend.