AUSTIN (KXAN) - Moments of silence, music and a physical reminder of what 9/11 firefighters endured marked a day of remembrance for firefighters in Austin.
The Austin Fire Department hosted its annual memorial service at the Buford Fire Tower downtown, as a way to remember their fellow brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice 11 years ago.
The ceremony began at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday as the sun came up over the city.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell spoke, as did Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr. The service included the ringing of the bell, playing of taps and presentation of colors.
While the various memorials help Americans remember and honor the heroes and victims, for one Austin firefighter, they take him back 11 years to Ground Zero.
"The first bridge we came across on a bus to go toward Ground Zero, there was still a smoldering fire and smoke rising out of pile, and we could see it from miles away from the bridge," said AFD Lt. Eddie Martinez.
Martinez was part of a group of Central Texas firefighters who helped with the efforts in New York City in the days and weeks following the attacks.
"I've seen pictures; I took pictures while I was there, and the pictures that I have and the pictures that I've seen are nowhere near what I saw when I was there. It's just too hard to put into pictures," he said.
Following that memorial, Austin firefighters took place in a memorial stair climb at the Pleasant Valley Drill Tower in Southeast Austin.
Firefighters make several trips up and down the flights of stairs, roughly equal to what would be the height of the World Trade Center towers. The climb is conducted in silence, and firefighters are in full gear -- including an air pack and hose bundle.
They started the stair climb at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and it took about an hour.
At noon, the Emergency Service Pipes and Drums Association played in the Capitol Rotunda.
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