Those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, along with first responders from across South Carolina, were honored at a ceremony in the Vista in Columbia on Tuesday night.
As men and women of local law enforcement, fire departments, EMS, the military and other first responders gathered around the first responders memorial in front of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, family members remembered those, they say, who were simply doing their job.
She got up every morning to put on that badge and gun, said Julie Knight, whose cousin Master Cpl. Sandra Sandy Rogers, an Aiken police officer, was one of the names added to the memorial this year.
Rogers was shot and killed in January by a suspect who had earlier shot and killed his girlfriend, police allege. The 28-year veteran officer was responding to a report of suspicious activity.
We never thought wed get that phone call, said Knight, who attended the ceremony with several members of Rogers family. I can still remember the day she left for the police academy.
Rogers joins three others whose names were added to the first responders memorial this year.
Those include National Guard soldiers Sgt. J.D. Meador and 1st Lt. Ryan Rawl, of Lexington, killed in Afghanistan in June, as well as E. Scott Richardson of Lexington, who, like Rogers, was an Aiken police officer.
The memorial, which includes two steel beams from the World Trade Center and two granite pillars designed to represent the two towers, was erected last year.
Every year we hope we will not have to put a name there, said Dan Hennigan, a retired Army colonel who lives in Batesburg-Leesville who was instrumental in having the memorial built. But, God forbid, if we have to put a name on there, I promise you we will never forget.
Hennigan said he first came up with the idea after staring at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in a vigil in New York a few years back. He said he wanted something that would represent all first responders, regardless of what branch of service they represent.
They all have the same mission of sacrificing themselves to protect the American way, he said.
In addition to the four who were added to the memorial Tuesday night, a separate plaque was created to honor canine officer Fargo of the Richland County Sheriffs Department, killed in the line of duty in December.
Organizers for the event said they hope to build a separate monument near the first responders memorial to recognize service animals.
For Knight, knowing that there is a monument in Columbia honoring her cousin means a great deal. She said, for her, Sept. 11 has come to represent those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community.
Im glad they do this, she said. Because when you see that policeman or that firefighter, you should think Thats someones family.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.