NASHVILLE, Tenn. - This week marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Over the years, the annual memorial ceremonies have changed into more than just remembrance for those lost. It's now a day of national service and recognition for local law enforcement that continue to put their lives on the line.
"We won't ever forget. It's part of our tradition and history. I am proud to support and honor those that lost their lives every year," said Metro Firefighter George Deshields.
Each year Deshields takes to the stairs of the Tennessee Tower to climb for a New York Firefighter who never made it to the top of the World Trade Center.
"This is my third year. I am climbing for firefighter John Burnside," he said.
It's all these men and women can do to show support more than a decade later. Organizers said it unites the firefighter brotherhood here in Tennessee and across the country.
"To bring everybody together as one, it's great to get everybody together," said Josh Smith.
But the day, once marked by solemn ceremonies, has changed and morphed into something much different over the past eleven years.
"It really allowed us to look and see how important our local heroes are to us," said Steve Kennedy from Full Life Assembly in Franklin.
For the past seven years, they use September 11th as an opportunity to honor the brave acts in their own community that might otherwise go unnoticed. For example, Franklin Police officer Tim Damm helped find and arrest an armed robbery suspect while he was off duty.
"There's a lot of unrecognized heroes out there, and this award is for them," said Damm.
Others recognized at the ceremony include the Assistant Fire Chief in Franklin and Williamson County Deputy Telayna Luttrell.
She happened to cross paths with a suicidal woman at just the right time on the Natchez Trace Bridge.
"Just driving around a regular routine patrol and I get up there and there is this lady hanging off the bridge, and you have a flash to say either what's going to make her jump or make her come back over," said Luttrell.
Luttrell talked the woman off the bridge and into her patrol car.
"It still gives me chills. No one called and said, ‘Hey, go up here.' I was just in the right place right when she needed me to be there," said Luttrell.
These acts of courage earned them a Hero's Award in Franklin. It's just another way September 11th continues to make the country and communities grow closer and stronger than before.
"There is no answer for those types of events. For me it's a day of hope; it's a day that America was able to get through, not only America but the world," said Assistant Fire Chief Todd Horton.
All the money raised from the stair climb event goes to a fund for the New York Fire Department.