Members of the Carolina community gathered at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center Sunday morning to remember fallen heroes native to South Carolina.
The event, run by the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina, was held to honor and give back to veterans, military service members and first responders in the state.
At the site, there were two memorials — one for 9/11 first responders in New York City and another for South Carolina first responders, all of who passed fighting on front lines.
The ceremony included a “roll call” of 60 individuals who lost their lives as police officers, firefighters and members of the military. Family members of these individuals were also in attendance.
One mother of a South Carolina first responder acknowledged respect and gratitude for the love she has felt from visiting this yearly memorial.
"Our grief is softened by the love we feel when we attend these ceremonies" Diane Rawl, Gold Star Mother of First Lieutenant Ryan Rawl said.
The bravery of these individuals was recognized and inspired by attendees, like Jared Evans, a retired US Marine corps veteran and executive director of Veterans and Military Affairs at USC. Evans said he knew he wanted to make a difference after following the news four years after 9/11.
"I felt this deep void in my heart watching the news and seeing the daily body count of American lives that we were losing overseas. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to serve and challenge myself in a more meaningful way,” Evans said.
The memorial where the ceremony was held debuted 12 years ago for the South Carolina community to come together in remembrance. Alongside model towers with cut tops, the memorial has two steel beams from the World Trade Center. Daniel Hennigan, a retired US army veteran and founder and chairman of the memorial, said the beams represented more than the lives lost on 9/11.
“The beams are crossed to remember that we’re a united nation of one,” Hennigan said.
Throughout the ceremony, bells went off denoting 30 seconds until the time of each attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, as well as the crash of Flight 93, 21 years ago. Speakers recount watching the attacks and recall exactly where they were and what they were doing at the time.
"We watched those images (of the attacks) that will forever be in our minds and our eyes," Tyler Ryan, master of ceremonies said. "Those images for me weigh 21 years ago, and 21 years later are as brand new as they were that morning."
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was in attendance at the event and stressed the importance of educating future generations about the tragedy of 9/11.
"Those generations coming behind us will have absolutely no first-hand knowledge of any of the events which have shaped our lives and the life of our country," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.
Although the tragedy of 9/11 will be a part of history forever, Division Chief of Columbia-Richland Fire Department Will Broscious said the selflessness shown on that day is unforgettable.
“On that day, we did not focus on nationality, wealth, race or education," Fred Tolman, 2nd Battalion, 39th infantry Regiment Fort Jackson, SC said. "We focused on humanity and love for our fellow Americans."