COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As we mark 18 years since the tragedy of 9/11, South Carolina honored our fallen heroes, first responders and our military in Columbia.
A Historic Morning of Remembrance was held at the 9/11 Memorial at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Irmo Fire Chief Mike Sonefeld is also the Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina, the organization behind Wednesday’s ceremony.
He pointed out that some of today’s first responders and military members were not even born the day that the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened.
The chief says it’s important that everyone remember the emotion felt across the country, and never forget the impact we still feel nearly two decades later.
Wednesday’s ceremony paid tribute to those who perished on September 11, 2001, while also honoring our first responders and military members who continue to serve and protect. Watch the entire ceremony below: (Story continues after the video.)
Sonefeld says this is the first year the remembrance is being held in the morning, to better resemble the tributes being held at Ground Zero.
“When I went to New York for several of the anniversaries there, it’s done in the morning and the entire city and the public safety sides, it stops, and they recognize all the events of that morning – when the planes hit, when the towers came down, when the Pentagon was hit, Pennsylvania – all of those," Sonefeld said. "They take a minute to remember because it wasn’t just the one event in New York. So, we’re going to replicate that and we think it’d be a more powerful way to remember it.”
Several members of the Gold and Blue Star mothers attended the ceremony, along with the 246th Army Band. There was also a performance by the White Knoll School Choir.
Sonefeld says White Knoll Middle School has helped to continue a partnership between New York and South Carolina, which is more than a century in the making.
“New York helped us in the 1800s when our city was burning," Sonefeld said. "White Knoll Middle School responded at 9/11 and raised money to buy a firetruck and that has been the connection ever since. So, we haven’t stopped that connection. We’re going to continue to do it. They support us. We support them.”
Diane Rawl, a Gold Star mother, planned to attend the Historic Morning of Remembrance.
Her 30-year-old son, Ryan Rawl, was a first lieutenant serving as a platoon leader in Afghanistan when he was killed by a suicide bomber in 2012. His mother says her son would be delighted to see South Carolinians come together and remember the sacrifices of all of our country’s heroes.
“All of the Gold Star Mothers and the Blue Star Mothers – we have a close bond because we have that loss that really is hard to explain and nobody else really feels that," Rawl said. "But we are so thankful that we have organizations like the 9/11 committee that continue to remember our love – don’t want our loved ones forgotten and we don’t want their service forgotten.”
WIS-TV general manager, Lyle Schulze, was the keynote speaker of the event. Two of his sons serve(d) as officers in the U.S. Air Force.