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Dear Family & Friends,
In less than a month, September 11 will arrive--the 16th anniversary since that tragic day in 2001 that changed so many lives around the world. I remembered watching the incredible images of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon here in Arlington, and the United Airlines Flight 93 crashsite in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvannia. What amazed me were the selfless sacrifices made by numerous first responders and ordinary people who wanted to help. At the time, I had separated from the U.S. Air Force after 11 years and lived comfortably in Los Angeles, California as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Little did I know the course of my life was about to change when I received the inevitable call to suit up again in my military uniform to go to war. Those who also felt the calling "suited up" in other ways to honor those who fell on 9/11.
Much has happened since then and I find myself now living in Hyattsville, Maryland, having recently retired from the military after 26 memorable years. A new generation of first responders and military now serve in the forefront yet they have not forgotten those who lost their lives on that fateful day 16 years ago. For me, I wanted to continue to serve after my "retirement" so I volunteered with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) so I could become a firefighter & emergency medical technician for my local community.
To remember why I do what I do and to support fire service survivors, I will be a team member of HVFD participating in the National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on September 16 at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center at the National Harbor, Maryland. Each participant pays tribute to a FDNY firefighter by climbing the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center in full gear. It is not a timed race event, but a way for firefighters and the community to honor and remember the FDNY firefighters who selflessly gave their lives so that others might live. Our climb symbolically completes their heroic journey to save others. Through firefighter and community participation, we ensure that each of the 343 firefighters is honored and that the world knows that we will never forget.
I humbly ask if you could make a tax-deductible donation (no matter how small) to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation so they could create and maintain programs that support fire service survivors. My personal donation goal was $911 for symbolic reasons and we exceeded that goal in only 14 days! So I set a new donation goal. Your support of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb provides assistance to the surviving families and co-workers of the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.
Jeffrey Louie, Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department
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