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Downtown Knoxville to host two memorial events on 18th anniversary of 9/11

KNOXVILLE - Wednesday, September 11, 2019, will mark the 18th anniversary of the horrific attack on our country referred to as 9/11.

Four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda were conducted on American soil on September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others.

City of Knoxville and Knox County officials will host a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial on the lawn of the City County Building. Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas and Knoxville Fire Chief Gary Compton will place a wreath at the base of the memorial, which is a black granite obelisk made by Randy Vaden and installed in 2003.

9/11 memorial knoxville tn
9/11 Memorial made by Randy Vaden; image by Jeaneane Payne
first baptist church knoxville tn
First Baptist Church; image by Jeaneane Payne

The ceremony will begin with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. as First Baptist Church ring its bells to mark the time hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Knoxville Police Department Chaplain Pam Neal will say a prayer, then retired Captain Mike Freels of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office will perform “Taps.”

9/11 ceremony knoxville tn
Military members will march to the 9/11 Memorial to begin the ceremony; image by Jeaneane Payne

Main Street will be closed to traffic between Walnut and Gay streets from 8:20 to 9 a.m. KAT’s free trolleys will cease operation during this time and will resume at 9 a.m.

9/11 memorial knoxville
Inscription of the 9/11 Memorial;
image by Jeaneane Payne

Also on this morning, the sixth annual National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will hold the Knoxville 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and inaugural Walk-A-Thon at World’s Fair Park.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with a ceremony that includes remarks from Mayor Madeline Rogero and an 8:46 a.m. moment of silence. In the Stair Climb, 343 area firefighters, EMS, police, military and others trained as first responders will climb the equivalent of 110 stories in the Sunsphere in remembrance of the 343 New York City firefighters who died at the Twin Towers.

Many climbers wear full gear and carry equipment to replicate the experience of FDNY firefighters on that day. Climbers also wear badges bearing the names and pictures of those fallen firefighters.

As first responders climb, non-emergency personnel will walk a route around the World’s Fair Park that equals 110 stories.

Proceeds from the climb and the walk go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The public is welcome to attend and may bring chairs and blankets to observe the climb and encourage participants.

For further information on the climb, visit

Published September 9, 2019

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