Veterans Day Parade showcasing a piece of history in Columbia

"Tears of Joy. Tears of some sort of closure. Tears that somebody cared," said McBrien.

COLUMBIA (WACH) - The 34th Annual Veterans Day Parade marching through the streets of downtown Columbia Monday morning with a piece of history.

Hundreds lined the streets to show support for current, former and future protectors of the United States as well as those who lost their lives fighting for our country.

While there were the traditional bands, soldiers and veterans, one group showcased an important piece of history to those lining the streets.

Cadets with the South Carolina Challenge Program marched in the Veterans Day parade holding the historical September 11 Memorial Flag in their hands.

"It's a great honor to be able to carry this flag that represents so many people; so many people that died," said Cadet James Moss.

The memorial flag is 22 feet by 32 feet large and is made of nearly 3,000 miniature flags that represent those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

While many tears have been shed over the memorial flag, curator Thomas McBrien feels those tears have helped America make it through one of its darkest days.

"Tears of Joy. Tears of some sort of closure. Tears that somebody cared," said McBrien.

McBrien presented the flag to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in March of 2002. Since then, McBrien says the flag has traveled more than 70,000 miles and touched the lives of millions.

"When you touch the flag it releases a certain kind of energy in you, into that person. They'll never forget it as long as they live," said McBrien.

For Moss and fellow cadets, carrying the memorial flag is a reminder to never forget the lives lost on Sept. 11.

"A small world, but we're all drawn together, you know, by one big flag," said Moss.

The flag will continue travelling until it reaches its final destination in New York at the 9/11 National Memorial Museum. It will be on display in Columbia for the next week at the National Guard Armory on Bluff Road in Columbia where Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston will add South Carolina Guard patches and his signature to the historic flag.