ROCK SPRINGS – Hundreds of citizens and local first responders remembered the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, by walking up and down Grant Street in Rock Springs as part of the first-ever memorial walk on Saturday.
Beginning at 7 a.m., firefighters, police officers, people with their families, veterans holding the American flag and others walked the stretch of Grant Street, symbolizing the stairs firefighters had to climb at the World Trade Center in New York City 20 years ago.
There were 343 firefighters who were buried in the rubble when the towers collapsed, along with thousands of others who perished.
“For me, the walk today, it’s a memorial for the 343 firefighters who were lost that day,” said Rock Springs Fire Department Chief Jim Wamsley.
“But I also see it as a reinforcement of our society. We look out for each other. We stand up when the chips are down. We take care of business. I feel like here in Rock Springs and Sweetwater County, you can see the truest example of that right here today.”
Rock Springs resident Ella Roberts, who like many others walking on Saturday was very young when the attacks occurred, said it’s important to remember that day.
“I think it’s important to remember 9/11 because it was so long ago and we need to remember all of those first responders who sacrificed their life to save others,” said Roberts.
Skyler Shaw, a firefighter for Sweetwater Fire District No. 1, was 9 years old when the attacks happened.
“I remember seeing it on T.V. It’s sad. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a firefighter today. I sit down and watch videos of it all of the time,” he said.
RSFD firefighter Tristan Van Valkenburg was only 2 years old, but he said he is proud to be a firefighter and knows the significance of that day.
“I’m doing this walk for the 343 firefighters that perished in the 9/11 attacks. Being a part of the fire service is a huge accomplishment for all of these people. So, 343 is one flight of stairs for each firefighter so I’m going up and down this street six times,” he said.
When walkers reached the top of the street, they rang a bell to recognize the first responders and victims.
Following the memorial walk, a ceremony was held at the front of Western Wyoming Community College. There was a presentation of the colors and the national anthem was played and sang by the Rock Springs band and choir.
“May God bless all members of our law enforcement,” Wamsley said during the ceremony.
Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo reflected on the day of the attacks, calling the terrorists “cowards” several times.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s been 20 years,” he said. “We can all remember where we were on that infamous day. We were stopped in our tracks as we listened and watched the catastrophe that was unfolding on T.V.
“I happened to be just leaving for work, pouring a cup of coffee in our kitchen when the news came on the television. My wife and I were glued to the T.V. in astonishment, wondering if this was a terrible accident or a planned act of terrorism.
“As the other events began to unfold, it was becoming very clear that were being attacked on our own soil.”
Events throughout the area on Saturday continued to show remembrance to those who fell.
At the annual ARTember event at Bunning Park in Rock Springs, American Legion Post 24 presented the colors and raised the American flag.
In total, 2,996 people died from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. About 25,000 suffered nonfatal injuries. Four planes were hijacked. Two of them hit the World Trade Center in New York City, a third hit the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after a group of passengers fought off hijackers to take back the plane.