For those of us who witnessed the events of September 11th, 2001, the images of those tragedies will be ingrained into our consciousness forever. However, a large portion of the current United States population cannot remember the events of that day and will never have the same visceral recollection of those who experienced it in person. For these younger generations there may be some confusion as to why we take time every year to remember and acknowledge the tragedy of 9/11, even after 22 years. So today, we are proud to see citizens South Carolina, the Lowcountry, and the nation, gather not only to honor and remember those who lost their lives on 9/11, but also to tell our children why we must continue to honor and remember those Americans now in all future years as well.
The World Trade Towers were 110 stories tall. Even for those of us who watched the events unfold on live television, the experiences of the firefighters, police, and first responders who arrived at the scene of that attack are unfathomable. This year, local organizers in the Lowcountry hosted stair climbs to both honor the sacrifices of those heroes and to experience a tiny sliver of what they accomplished in their efforts to evacuate the towers on 9/11. Stair climbs took place at Joe Riley Stadium in Charlottesville as well as Fluor Field Stadium in Greenville, with participants circuiting the stadium steps until reaching the equivalent of 110 steps. Climbing stairs on a warm summer’s day cannot be compared to the smoke-filled interior of the Twin Towers, but it certainly provides a measure of reality for those who grew up with 9/11 already in the history books.
Likewise, the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina, a state organization dedicated to honoring current and former first responders, hosted its annual morning of remembrance at the Columbia 9/11 and First Responders Monument. The Monument is a solemn beacon of remembrance comprised of two steel beams from the World Trade Center’s South Tower and two granite pillars etched with the names of the 57 South Carolina First Responders who have been killed in the line of duty since the Monument’s establishment in 2011. The yearly ceremony of remembrance for 9/11 serves to reaffirm our respect for those who answered the call to action on 9/11, but also grounds our current and future South Carolina First Responders in the heritage of the brave men and women who came before them. Events such as these contextualize our past and ensure that our future generations will not treat events such as 9/11 as just another page in a history book.
There are numerous other events taking place today across our local towns and cities to pay tribute to the events of 9/11 and remember those at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville. Silent walks, candlelit memorials, and organized days of service will help us remember the fallen and honor the military and first responders who served then and are serving now. We at the Beaufort MEC join the rest of the county, state, and nation, in remembrance. Just as we will next year and every year to come.