Dozens of people gathered along the grassy levels of the Columbia County Amphitheater on Monday evening to remember the fallen heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, and to thank the county's emergency responders who work each day to protect and serve.
"Heroes don't just fly across the movie screen and wear a big 'S' on their chest," state Sen. Jim Whitehead told the audience. "They're standing here with us, working in our community."
The Patriot Day event, meant to remember the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, featured prayers; gospel music; and recognitions of the police, firefighters and emergency medical workers who formed ranks along the edges of the amphitheater complex.
Many officials spoke at the event, including Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who equated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 to such pivotal moments in American history as the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
"It bothers me that maybe we have not rallied around our country following this incident as we should," he said.
He asked parents and grandparents to teach their young ones about 9-11 and remind them that the war on terrorism continues to be fought by the nation's military.
Cross also spoke at a ceremony held at the Columbia County Justice Center flagpole, again asking people to never forget the 9-11 tragedy.
The tolling of a fire-alarm bell and the lowering of the courthouse flags to half-staff punctuated the Monday morning event.
To start the service, an all-call announcement to each of the county's fire stations, which was also broadcast at the ceremony, paid tribute to the New York emergency responders who sacrificed their lives trying to rescue others from the rubble of the twin towers.
"We will never forget," a voice from the radio proclaimed. "May they rest in peace. God bless you."
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