Thousands of firefighters from around the county came to Charleston today to give a final salute to nine fallen heroes. Some of those firefighters at the memorial service honoring the nine who died this week in a furniture store warehouse fire were from right here at home.
While most of our local firefighters that attended today's ceremony didn't even know these men, they came to support their brothers.
Firefighters from all over drove their fire trucks through Charleston as a way to show their respect to those who died in the line of duty. It was a hero's farewell that Beaufort Fire's assistant chief, James Colwell, says he and his men didn't want to miss.
"It's just important for us to be here, to support the fire department, to support the families," he said.
Seeing the hundreds of fire trucks line the streets made the firefighters from Beaufort proud.
"It made me feel good. It just showed support that you have among firefighters," said Beaufort firefighter Peter Singleton.
"It's a terrible thing we have to do it, but it does feel good that you have people coming in from all over the country," Lady's Island/St. Helena Fire Chief Bruce Kline.
Not only did our firefighters attend the service, many spent the past few days helping to organize it.
"It was quite an honor to be there and to assist and it's also very humbling," said Beaufort fire marshal Lt. Dan Byrne. "This is a memorial service for firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty, doing our job and our profession, so it kind of brings reality in for everyone."
None of these firefighters ever want to go through anything like this again, but say what they experienced today brings them comfort.
"I think if it were to happen in Beaufort County, Savannah, or wherever, everyone would turn out in support and that's what it's all about," said Asst. Chief Colwell.
"Even though we were there for a tragic reason, it was a battery charger to remind all of us, we're in a special profession and share a special bond," said Lt. Byrne.
The memorial may be over, but firefighters say they'll never forget these men or the sacrifices they made.
"They'll be in my heart always," said Peter Singleton.
The firefighter bond in South Carolina is very strong. While many helped organize today's ceremony, others from around the state are helping out at fire stations all over Charleston to give the Charleston firefighters some time to mourn, so they can get back to protecting the community.