Raleigh, N.C. — Across North Carolina, men and women turned a day of mourning into one of service to mark 12 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
In Raleigh, a workout group gathered at Moore Square before dawn to climb 110 stairs to honor the firefighters and first responders who climbed the World Trade Center steps on that fateful day.
Geoff Hall said the group first decided to climb steps in honor of 9/11 a year ago.
"It's a way to honor the victims and the emergency workers who died that day," he said. "We hope we're out here every year."
David Moreau said it's easy to complete the workout because of what it means.
"It motivates you, that's for sure," Moreau said. "Sept. 11 is our generation's Pearl Harbor. It's a somber day, but it's also a day to celebrate what Americans can do when they are called to action."
"When you remember why you're out here, it's easy to keep going," Hall added. "Those guys didn't have an option to stop on 9/11."
Tony Diaz, a native New Yorker, was among hundreds who gathered at the State Fairgrounds to prepare meals for hungry families. The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina benefits from the efforts of the more than 700 volunteers who packaged as many as 100,000 meals.
Among them was Gov. Pat McCrory.
"That's the best way to recognize Sept. 11, is to to give back," McCrory said. "That shows resolve and our strength and our patriotism more than anything else."
Mark Mahoney echoed that sentiment.
"It's such a day that goes to the core of who we are Americans," Mahoney said. "We were knocked down and we got back up. This is just one way to show it."
Diaz, who lived in New York City in 2001, said he was "minutes away from the World Trade Center when it happened." After a brief period of unemployment, he is proud to be able to help others.
Volunteers in Durham participated in a similar event, harvesting and planting fresh fruits and vegetables to be donated to the food bank there.
A mobile museum and a series of military services were among the observances scheduled across North Carolina on Wednesday to commemorate the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
In Fayetteville, a 9/11 Mobile Museum was unveiled at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville. The Tunnel to Towers museum contains artifacts donated by New York firefighters specially selected to provide a look at what happened that morning in lower Manhattan.
FDNY Battalion Chief John LaBarbera and Capt. John Carroll, both of them veterans of the ground zero response, will accompany the mobile museum as it heads to Atlanta on Sept. 15, then a five-day stop in Raleigh beginning Sept. 17.
The 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base also scheduled several memorial events. A ceremony slated for the base firehouse included a 21-gun salute, a slideshow illustrating the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and several speakers.
Frank Siller spoke about his brother, Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter who died at Ground Zero.
"He gave so much. He paid the ultimate sacrifice because that is what our military and our first responders do everyday for us," Frank Siller said.
Stephen Siller had the day off on Sept. 11, 2001, his brother said, but when he heard what happened at the World Trade Center, he rushed in to help.
"You know the decision – you guys live it every day," Frank Siller said. "There was no decision. He had to get there."
The Onslow Civic Affairs Committee hosted a remembrance at Camp Johnson, which is adjacent to the Beirut Memorial. Local law enforcement, firefighters, first responders and rescue personnel represented those who were killed while responding to the attacks. During the event, participants observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., one minute after the first impact at the World Trade Center.