American flags were flown at half staff and from some area bridges Thursday, as a breeze helped them keep a cadence against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.
Across the Grand Strand flags – displayed also at businesses, on houses and cars – represented the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
There were motorcades, marches and memorials during the day, each echoing the solemn reminders of communities that came together then – and now – to remember and never forget.
Keith Ater, a former Murrells Inlet volunteer firefighter, looked on as members of the South Carolina chapter of Rolling Thunder, a motorcyclists organization that raises awareness of POWs and MIAs, presented colors before marching through a crowd at Dead Dog Saloon in Murrells Inlet.
The group coordinated the flying of flags from bridges in North Myrtle Beach, Little River and at Harrelson Boulevard, before heading to the Dead Dog Saloon for a ceremony that began at 1 p.m.
Chuck Galuppo called his first time holding a flag alongside a bridge on Sea Mountain Parkway “moving.”
“We were there from 8 a.m. until about 10:30 – around the same time the second tower collapsed in 2001,” he said. “Some people even stopped and held the flags for a while.”
Dead Dog owner Charlie Campbell provided free food and two local bands played music for the annual event that’s raised more than $160,000 since the event's inception in 2002.
In addition to supporting various 9/11 funds, Campbell, who said he hoped at least $20,000 was raised Thursday, said he also donates to Rolling Thunder and Georgetown Sheriff’s Department's annual Shop for Santa.
“We [are able to] provide gifts for 36 kids each year,” said Corporal R.K. Patterson Jr.
Lieutenant Richard Loskill of the Surfside Beach Fire Department said the department held an 8 a.m. ceremony in honor of the day.
In Myrtle Beach, a crowd gathered for a 7 p.m. 9/11 Unity Memorial, hours after an eight-mile beach walk for firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and military personnel who wished to participate.
At the Unity Memorial, located next to 29th Avenue at Broadway at the Beach, flowers lay near a fountain where two miniature replicas of the twin towers shone against the sunlight.
Sid Shofner, the artist who designed and built the statues, was in attendance for the memorial ceremony.
More flowers were laid at the base of a monument which held a World Trade Center steel beam presented to the citizens and businesses of Myrtle Beach.
A plaque at Unity Memorial read “Unity Memorial was conceived by area Cub Scouts and constructed by local volunteers to honor the spirit that brings people together in times of great trials to build a better tomorrow.”
The memorial site “isn’t anybody’s, it’s everybody’s,” James McIlrath said.