GREENSBORO, N.C. — As a trumpet rang out “Taps,” Greensboro Fire Department Capt. Dave Sagers looked on. He was 35 years old and off-duty during the darkest day in American history.
He was in Asheboro setting up a retail store when a neighbor with a TV came over to bring the news.
What You Need To Know
Capt. Dave Sagers has been a firefighter for 25 years
Greensboro hosted a stair climb for 9/11 after COVID-19 forced it to cancel last year
Participants went up eight flights nine times
“They come down, they knocked on my door and said, ‘Did you see what happened?’ And I went down and started watching it on theirs, and it’s just unbelievable,” Sagers said. “When you first look at it, none of us could really believe what we were seeing. We’re like, ‘is this real?’”
Of course, it was real, and the city of Greensboro hosted a stair climb Saturday morning as a tribute to those who died.
“They didn’t know they weren’t coming home. They went to work just like any other day. Sure, there’s always a possibility,” Sagers said. “The job has risks, but you know you’re doing an honorable thing. Every day you go in, you’re making a difference.”
They went up eight flights at the Bellemeade Street Deck parking garage and back down – nine times total. It was tough, but those in the World Trade Center had no choice.
“There’s no comparison because those guys were on a real call,” Sager said.
After a couple of rounds the heat and exhaustion forced him to shed a few layers.
“It’s definitely playing a toll,” Sager said with a tired laugh.
But it’s a toll worth bearing. He said he wasn’t going to quit until he did all nine since that’s what the firefighters in New York did 20 years ago. On the last one, he says it’s his tradition to take the stairs instead of the traditional spiral ramp down.
“Just in remembrance of the guys, and I couldn’t imagine that day, what it must’ve been like,” Sagers said. “Just going to the tower that day and seeing what those guys seen, and the ones who survived, the ones who got injured, and the ones who never came home.”
The climb wasn’t a somber one. Instead, it was an honorable one; a celebration of life and resilience.
“People have to learn how to recover and rebuild. And that’s one way of coping, of getting over it,” Sagers said. “You got to remember and put those people in a good place.”
Twenty years later, we still remember.