JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A group of Jacksonville firefighters is in New York for the Jaguars game, but the main reason is to pay tribute and remember fallen firefighters who lost their lives trying to rescue people after the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
It's a trip Jason Kerr has made every year, including the week after the attack happened.
"Without a second's doubt, (they) ran into those buildings to save lives. This is my 17th year, and until I am not physically able to (go), I will be here every year," Kerr said.
On that fateful day, 412 first responders died, including 343 firefighters from the New York City Fire Department, 60 police officers and nine other emergency personnel. Another 260 people have died due to 9/11-related illnesses.
Every year, thousands of firefighters from around the world, including members of the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, meet at the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park to pay their respects.
They then go to ground zero for a moment of silence, followed later by a sunset memorial.
"I talked to a captain, Kerr said. "He lost four of his guys off the rig, and he bluntly told me, 'Jason, We knew we weren't coming out of that building.' It's what we do. And the citizens of Jacksonville need to know they have a professional devoted department, and we will put our lives on the line 24/7, 365."
Their devotion and dedication caught the attention of Jaguars defensive tackle, Malik Jackson.
When he heard Jacksonville firefighters were going up to the 9/11 ceremony, he provided them with custom jerseys and tickets to the game between the Jaguars and Giants. He even met up with them on the sidelines for photos.
"I'm just totally blown away by what the Jags and Malik Jackson have done for us. We are very, very humbled, and we thank them for this," said Kerr.
It's another unforgettable trip for these firefighters, who will always remember their fallen brothers and sisters.