News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012
CLEARWATER, S.C. -- Everyone knows we had heroes in New York on that tragic day nearly 11 years ago, but Sunday's service was held to honor the heroes we have right here in our community who give their lives every day to keep you safe.
"I know sometimes you may get weary, you may wonder is it all worth it? I want to tell you, to us, it is," assured Lakeside Baptist Church Pastor Tad Marshall.
It was a powerful and emotional day as families gathered at Lakeside Baptist Church in Clearwater two days before the anniversary of 9/11 to say thank you to those who come when you call 911.
"Such great servants, and I think sometimes they're probably un-thanked and probably don't get recognized enough," Marshall said.
But this year, the service took on a different meaning. Three officers were killed in the line of duty since last September.
"We've been through a rough year," said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt. "The CSRA experienced a terrific loss."
"With the tragedies on a national level, sometimes the attention is focused on New York and Washington -- and rightly so, we have no problem with that -- but what we wanted to do is recognize the fact that we have heroes in our local community," Marshall said.
A New York firefighter, who watched as the second tower crumbled to the ground, attended Sunday morning's service.
He retired in Aiken, S.C., and he says there's just something special about how people come together in the South.
"In New York, big place, and that day, those weeks, months, the city of New York came together like it was absolutely unbelievable, but here, it's like that all the time," said retired New York firefighter Rick Doran.
"People down here really do love each other ... and we do love our officers and our fire department," said Master Cpl. Sasndy Rogers' sister Virginia Johnson.
The love showed with multiple standing ovations, proud salutes and tearful memories.
In that moment, whether you knew them or not, everyone was family.
"It's just an extension of our family, and it means a lot to have people thinking and supporting you," Johnson said.
"We wanted to let those families know and the Public Safety family know that we're praying for them," Marshall said.