Thousands of firefighters from across the country gathered today for a memorial ceremony honoring their nine colleagues who died Monday battling a blaze in Charleston, SC. Their chief shared humorous stories about the men, adding a personal touch to a formal affair. A column of firetrucks snaked through the streets before the service, and bagpipes wailed inside the overflowing arena.
The crowd of more than 9,000 included political bigwigs like Rudy Giuliani, but the spotlight was on the men, aged 27 to 56, whose death represented the greatest loss of firefighters in a single event since 9/11. Said one firefighter who drove from Virginia: "When we lose one, it affects us all." The cause of the fire remains unknown.