Dawn Yamashiro lost her brother when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001. Sunday, she did what she does every year: she spoke at a Columbia memorial ceremony. It’s not an easy thing for her to do, but Sunday she explained why she does it anyway.
“I wanted to be a reminder of why we needed to have this,” she said, speaking at An Evening of Remembrance, the event held each year in Columbia in honor of first responders and service members lost on 9/11 and in the years since. “Ordinary people lost their lives that day.”
The ceremony at the First Responders and Military Service Members Memorial outside the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center also included musical performances of patriotic songs by the Hammond School Combined Youth Choirs and the 208th Army Band, a flyover by SLED helicopters, a memorial wreath presentation, and a roll call of fallen heroes from the Midlands.
“We as family members don’t want our loved ones forgotten. We remember them every day, every hour,” said Diane Rawl, whose son, Lt. Ryan rawl, died serving his country in Afghanistan. “Time continues to march on, but we will never forget.”
“We want to honor their strength of heart, thank them for being shining stars above us every day,” added Kassy Alia, whose husband, Officer Greg Alia of the Forest Acres Police Department, was killed in the line of duty last year.”
Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, commanding general at Ft. Jackson, was the final speaker of the day. He spoke for the military, and shared his perspective as someone who deployed to Afghanistan almost immediately after 9/11.
“We care passionately about those who carry the scars and the emotional burden of loss,” he said. He also spoke of the effect the work of police, firefighters, and other first responders at home on troops serving abroad. “We were inspired and we continue to be in awe of the actions of our nation’s first responders… They will stand tall in our nation’s lineage of heroes.”
Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins tied the memorial to a look to the future, saying “We should not forget, but we’ve all got to realize we’re in this thing together… We’ll never forget, but we are going to push on.”
Johnson agreed, saying “Let us remember those we lost, but let us more importantly reaffirm the values they stood for.”
Other 9/11 Remembrances
Chief Terrence Green invites members of public safety and the Town of Lexington community to the annual 9/11: Standing for Our Heroes ceremony Monday, September 12 at 9:30 a.m. at the Lexington County 9/11 Memorial at 205 East Main Street in Lexington.
This service is a collaborative effort with members of law enforcement, fire service, EMS, officials, local pastors and community members participating to remember those who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks while also showing support for first responders who serve the residents of Lexington County at all times.
A combined Honor Guard with members of the Lexington Police Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Cayce Department of Public Safety, and Lexington County Fire Service will post and retire the Colors.
Emergency vehicles from local law enforcement, fire service, and EMS will be on display at the event. Refreshments will be provided by Eggs Up Grill in Lexington and Lexington Florist will provide the wreath for the event.
Columbia will also host a run and walk in honor of our heroes Friday starting at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Lincoln and Greene streets in the Vista. The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk Series was created to honor the heroic life and death of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter (FDNY) who lost his life on September 11, 2001 after strapping on his gear and running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers.
For additional information, please visit t2trunsc.org.
More photos from Sunday’s ceremony are posted on the Midlands Anchor Facebook page.