Columbia County will officially honor the heroes and the fallen of Sept. 11, 2001 and area first responders on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The ceremonies, dubbed 9/11 - A Day of Remembrance, will begin at 9 a.m. with prayer, moments of silence, ringing of a bell by Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue firefighters and the lowering of the Columbia County Justice Center flag to half staff.
The day-long remembrance marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks, which claimed the lives of some 3,000 people - many first responders-in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and four hijacked airliners, Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker stated in an e-mail.
"That is why we want to honor and appreciate our own local heroes - fire, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel-who would give their lives for us in this same way," she said.
Ceremonies will continue with the opening of Wesley United Methodist Church on North Belair Road for prayers at the altar from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Rev. Pat Williams, minister of care at Wesley, said the day is intended not only to mourn the dead but to celebrate and honor Columbia County's first responders who risk their lives everyday to protect the community.
"We're going to open the doors of the church ... so people can come in and pray at the alter, so that we don't forget and that we continue to remember the people in our everyday walk that risk their lives."
The bravery of selfless civilians who stormed the cockpit of the fourth airliner, which crashed outside Shanksville, Pa., will be recalled with three screenings of the feature film United 93. The first showing will begin at noon in the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center inside the Columbia County Library.
Shot in documentary style, the film recounts the actions of the passengers to prevent the plane from striking a fourth civilian target, which The 9/11 Commission Report has stated was likely the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
Remembrances will conclude with a Celebration of Emergency Personnel at 6 p.m. at the Columbia County Amphitheater. The celebration will honor military personnel, all uniformed law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel and include singing by the Wesley Youth Choir and the distribution of Lifesavers candy to the honored men and women, Williams said.
"That's what they are," she said, "they are our lifesavers."
The evening also will feature the winners of an essay contest by The Columbia County News-Times with pieces written by elementary, middle and high school pupils reflecting their feelings about the terrorist attacks.
Winners of the contest will receive a $100 savings bond.
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