Berks remembers 9/11 terror attacks with reflection, action

READING, Pa. - By each toll of the bell, people at City Park in Reading reflected and honored those who died on this day 18 years ago.

The Reading Fire Department honored the 343 firefighters who gave their lives trying to rescue those inside the burning World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

Chief William Stoudt said two FDNY firefighters who responded that day went through the fire academy in Reading.

"They were our guys," said Stoudt. "They were our brothers that we crawled down hallways with."

Those two survived that day, but two other FDNY firefighters who did not were friends of retired Reading firefighter Keith Eschleman.

"Two days prior, we were playing [softball] with them," Eschleman recalled. "We needed extra guys on our team. They filled in. They went home and that was the end of them."

And, in a different act of remembrance, Exeter Fitness and Wellness master trainer Nicholas Long led a 9/11 stair challenge. He and others wore full turnout gear while climbing 110 flights of stairs, the height of the World Trade Center towers.

"Just running through my head and the pain I was going through, I'm sure it was magnified by 10 whatever they had to go through," said Long. "It was getting a little emotional. I might not have shown it, but it was definitely playing in my head."

In different ways, heroes are remembered on a day Americans will never forget.

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