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‘We will always forge ahead.’ Columbia honors those killed in 2001 terrorist attacks

Columbia remembers 9/11

Columbia remembered the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks along with the men and women killed in the war on terror during a ceremony Wednesday morning in the Vista.
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Columbia remembered the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks along with the men and women killed in the war on terror during a ceremony Wednesday morning in the Vista.

On the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Columbians and South Carolinians were urged to always remember and teach others about the sacrifices made that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Several hundred people gathered at Columbia’s 9/11 Memorial in the Vista to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died when terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Attendees also remembered South Carolinians killed in the War on Terror and first responders who died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Today, . . . we are commemorating the sacrifice, the courage, the determination of strong people who have given the last full measure,” Gov. Henry McMaster said.

Diane Rawl, the mother of 1st Lt. Ryan D. Rawl of the South Carolina Army National Guard, said it was important for parents and grandparents to teach children about what happened on 9/11 and what happened as a result of the attacks. Ryan Rawl was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in June 2012.

Rawl was joined on the speaker’s stand by others who have lost loved ones as a result of the terrorist attacks.

“But today we want to honor, and it is our duty to remember and to share the sorrow and grief of those families who lost their loved ones on 9/11.”

They include “first responders who ran to an almost certain death helping people that day that they didn’t even know.”

Rawl pointed out the several dozen local first responders attending Wednesday’s ceremony “who would do that in a heartbeat for each one of us right now, today.”

On Sept. 11, 23 New York City police officers and 343 firefighters were killed in New York, according to Forbes.com, which cited statistics from the Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York and ABC News. Since then, 241 police officers and 204 firefighters have died from illnesses related to 9/11, Forbes.com reported.

The ceremony featured performances by the White Knoll High School Choir and the 246th Army Band. The White Knoll High School NJROTC presented the colors. In the months after the 2001 attacks, students at White Knoll Middle School raised more than $540,000 to pay for a fire truck for New York.

Moments of silence were observed Wednesday at the exact minutes that the planes hit the two World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon as well as the crash in Pennsylvania.

“We must continue to pay tribute and support our law enforcement, our firefighters, our EMS, our military members as they continue to serve us here in an unsettled world,” Rawl said.

“But let us be assured that as Americans, we will always forge ahead. And that no single event will ever change what we stand for.”

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