Daniel Miller, a first responder with Dallas County Fire-Rescue, prepares for the 9/11 Memorial Tower Climb at the Fort Worth City Center, 201 Main St. Miller wore anywhere between 130 to 150 pounds of gear during his climb, he said. First responders from Fort Worth and the DFW Metroplex climbed 100 stories to honor the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Three-year-old Rhett Renteria asked his mom, Leah, why his dad, a Tarrant County deputy, was climbing stairs Sept. 9. 

She calmly explained the 110-story climb at Fort Worth’s City Center, 210 Main St., will replicate the climb to the top of the New York World Trade Center and will commemorate the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 attack.

“His daddy is a police officer so he’s constantly asking questions, and it’s just important to us that he knows what he goes to watch,” Leah said. “This actually happened but to younger kids, this is history. They don’t know anything that happened. They didn’t live through it. It’s something that, if they didn’t learn about it, they wouldn’t know about it.”

Leah, 25, was only 2 years old when the attack happened, but Stephanie Jones, 48, said it was too real for her. Her brother-in-law was in the United States Marine Corps and immediately got sent overseas after the attack, she said.

“Leah was just a little bit younger than him when it actually happened. It’s surreal to see ‘cause I remember it vividly,” Jones said. “It’s very emotional.”

Jeff Sapienza, a retired New York Fire Department firefighter who was in New York City on 9/11, speaks to first responders at the 9/11 Memorial Tower Climb at the Fort Worth City Center on Sept. 9. Sapienza said his crew made a mistake that brought them back to a staging point before heading to the World Trade Center. The mistake delayed their arrival by 12 to 15 minutes, he said. As his crew walked to Tower 2, it collapsed. “That 15-minute delay or 12- minute delay basically helped save all of their lives because they would have been underneath the tower if they had gotten there 12 minutes earlier. That was a miracle, a stroke of good luck,” Sapienza said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Leah Renteria, 25, sits with her son Rhett, 3, while her husband, Chase, a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy, made the 110-story climb Sept. 9 at City Center. Renteria said she used to be a librarian and when she taught about 9/11, none of her students knew about it or were alive during the event — that was a wake-up call for her, she said. “This is important for them to know,” Renteria said. “This actually happened but to younger kids, this is history.” (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
First responders hold onto a rail while climbing 110 flights of stairs on Sept. 9 at City Center. The climb replicates the 110-story climb to the top of the New York World Trade Center. The 9/11 Memorial Tower Climb honors the victims of the 2001 attack and helps people remember that day in history, Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis said. “The further we get away from it, people really start to forget. We have a whole group of folks now that weren’t even alive. The least we can do is to make sure that the world is remembering the first responders that were going into these buildings, as people were trying to come out,” he said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Firefighters take a break from a 110-story climb on the 36th floor of the City Center building in downtown Fort Worth. First responders made the climb in full gear, which can at times exceed 150 pounds. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)
Family members watch their relatives make a 110-story climb Sept. 9 at Fort Worth City Center. First responders from all over the DFW Metroplex participated in the 9/11 Memorial Tower Climb. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Fort Worth District 9 City Council member Elizabeth Beck deployed to Taji, Iraq, in 2005, but before that she was a part of the United States Army Reserve, she said. 

After the New York World Trade Center attack, the United States changed as we knew it, she added.

“I remember when this happened, and knowing once that plane hit the Pentagon, knowing what was next for me,” Beck said. “It definitely changed the trajectory of my life and so many other folks that I served with. That moment was something that changed our nation.”

Beck said 9/11 should be remembered and honored as a day that changed the world.

As for Leah and Chase, they will continue teaching Rhett the importance of first responders.

“It’s important for them to know,” Leah said. “It’s important that he knows.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...