Midlands breaks ground on 9/11 memorial

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Midlands business and community leaders broke ground in Columbia Tuesday morning on a First Responders' Remembrance Memorial that will mark the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The memorial is being built at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and will feature two steel beams from the World Trade Center and will have the names of those lost on September 11, 2001 inscribed on the monument. The names of South Carolina first responders will also be featured.

Brooklyn native and Midlands resident Dan Hennigan is heading up efforts for the memorial.

"We must never forget," said Hennigan. "The enemy is very patient and us as Americans sometimes are not that patient. Every day when a soldier or a first responder walks out the door they may not come back. It's important that we remember the importance of partnership and friendship."

The children of South Carolina first responders and military members dug their shovels into the ceremonial dirt along Lincoln Street at 8:46 am to mark the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center almost ten years ago.

It was an emotional moment for dozens of local residents at the ceremony who lost loved ones in the attacks. Irmo's Dawn Yamashiro lost her brother in the World Trade Center and says having a memorial like this one built in Columbia is therapeutic for those touched by those events.

"For me it's a little more personal," said Yamashiro. "But, I think it's not something to be sad about. It's something that makes you proud to be an American."

The memorial project has received an overwhelming amount of support from private citizens and the South Carolina business community, but organizers are still roughly $175,000 short of their financial goal.

If you would like to help or get involved in the project click here.

The finished memorial will be unveiled Sunday September 11, 2011.