As the flag rose slowly up the pole in front of the Columbia County Judicial Center, several residents put their hands over their hearts, a veteran saluted and the tears began to fall.
In the background, the Greenbrier High School band played The Star-Spangled Banner and as the music drifted through the crowd, many began silently singing the words.
Then deputies lowered the flag to half- staff - and the Columbia County ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks started.
"We've received many gifts of freedom and each gift comes to us at a great price," Columbia County Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead said.
He encouraged people to remember Sept. 11 the way Pearl Harbor and other historically significant events are remembered.
"It (the memory) doesn't have to just be a year from now or two years from now," he said. "It should be every day."
Mr. Whitehead asked members of the crowd to join hands while firefighters rang a bell on the front of a fire engine. The group - hands joined - then observed a moment of silence before joining Lakeside High School choral students James Horton and Ansley Carter in America the Beautiful.
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