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Future firefighters honor the heroes of 9/11

September 11, 2001 made an impact on so many people and that includes the next generation of first responders. Even though some of them hadn't been born when it happened some high school students took time to honor the heroes that ran towards the Twin Towers.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 9:13 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Angie Jones was a Maryville, Mo. firefighter on September 11, 2001.

"It was just pretty surreal to just sit there and watch it and know there was nothing you could do for anybody," Jones said. You want to help, but you can't."

She's now the Fire Science Instructor at Hillyard Technical Center in St. Joseph. Every year on the anniversary, she has her students honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on that fateful day by climbing up stairs as many times as they can.

"I think it's very important for them to understand what these firefighters went through that day just getting to the tower and looking up and seeing that and the factor of what are we going to do, how are we going to get up there," Jones said. "We know there are risks to this job. We accept that risk."

For her first-year students, it is quite the challenge.

"It taught me discipline because there's no way in the world that..55 feels terrible. 110. It's like a change. This is who we do it for," Student Cayden Carter said. 

Some of students weren't even born yet when 9/11 happened, but still had a special reason to do this.

"I just want to be like my father," Student Khiler Bless said. "Every time I see my dad go to calls, I feel like it's the most awesome way to be a firefighter, save people's lives and protect property."

The students weren't alone climbing steps Tuesday— they had each other. 

"These firefighters are like my family," Bless said. "They are being brave and never giving up. We're doing it as a team. We got to keep on going. We're not going to stop."

They may be a group of teenagers now, but one day these young men are going to be future heroes with a new found respect for their occupation.

"It's more about respect for all those firemen that didn't make it through that day," Student Cole McMillian said. "Just to remember those men and what they went through— we'll never know that pain they went through."

"It's pretty amazing because as much as the point they almost seem like they don't like me, they come back later and say how much that meant to them," Jones added. 

In the 10 years she's taught at Hillyard, many of Jones' students have continued the 9/11 stair climbing tradition by participating at other remembrance first responder ceremonies.

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A few areas of frost are possible this morning as temperatures have fallen into the mid 30s. Today temperatures will remain below average with highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s under mostly sunny skies. A few clouds will move back into the area tonight as temperatures dip down into the mid to lower 30s. Areas of frost will be possible again early Thursday morning. Conditions will stay relatively the same on Thursday with highs in the upper 50s under mostly sunny skies. Rain chances will move back into the area on Friday, mainly through the afternoon and evening keeping temperatures in the lower 50s. A few rain showers could linger through early Saturday morning before moving out of the area. Sunday looks to be a dry and mild day with temperatures remaining in the upper 50s. Temperatures will start to warm up on Monday with highs back in the low to mid 60s before a cold front moves through the area dropping temperatures back into the 50s on Tuesday.
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