Alabama firefighter’s 9/11 tribute inspires, unites — ‘The spirit of our nation and our greatest gift’
While there were numerous emotional tributes across Alabama and the nation on Wednesday marking the 18th anniversary of 9/11, one small act in Hoover is making big waves.
According to a Facebook post by Jen Davis, her friend — Heather Goss — on Wednesday morning was at the local YMCA to work out.
It was an every day occurrence, one that many of us can relate to. However, out of something so ordinary, an extraordinary moment was born.
“I had only planned to warm up on the treadmill this morning,” Goss outlined, through Davis’ Facebook post. “Then I saw him behind me.”
As seen in a picture Goss captured, there was a young man, with firefighter gear and uniform on, using a StairMaster in the row of equipment behind her.
“Carrying the weight not only of his uniform and gear but of all the fight in our country and hearts from the last 18 years,” she said. “He climbed countless floors on that stairmaster in memory of those who climbed to their death.”
The power of the moment motivated Goss to join in the tribute.
“I made the decision to run as fast as I could until he stopped,” she detailed. “Miles and miles later… many more than I wanted and planned for…I got off to tell him what an honor it was to carry the weight with him this morning.”
“That’s how we remember best. Carrying each other’s weight. Carrying a strangers weight. Stopping to notice who is beside you and deciding to fight with them even when it’s not your battle,” Goss emphasized. “That is the spirit of our nation and our greatest gift to each other. Let’s not forget that either.”
At first, Goss did not know the young man’s name.
“I have no idea who this local firefighter is, and she doesn’t either. But I wish I could thank him,” Davis said in her post made early Wednesday afternoon.
Just as the tribute had motivated Goss in-person to join in, hearing her friend’s story led Davis to do so after the fact.
“I, too, will climb those stairs today. It’s the least I can do,” Davis wrote.
Since then, the man’s name has been revealed as Taylor Zales.
While it is often hard to capture the raw emotion of real experiences like this through social media, this incredible Alabama 9/11 tribute has touched the hearts of so many already.
As of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, Davis’ post had over 1,600 shares.
According to a public list kept by the Alabama Fire College, Zales is a firefighter at the Indian Ford Fire District headquartered in Bessemer. The district covers parts of unincorporated Jefferson and Shelby counties.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn