Every time they answer a call, Charleston firefighters will be reminded of the nine men who lost their lives June 18.
A flag designed as a memorial to the men will fly at each fire station and at City Hall.
The city dedicated the flag Wednesday at a ceremony outside its newest station, No. 19 on Bees Ferry Road.
Mayor Joe Riley vowed again that the city would not forget those who lost their lives fighting the fire at Sofa Super Store.
"Every step we take like this … is another mechanism to make sure these nine men who bravely fought a fire in our community … will never be forgotten," he said.
The flag was designed by Valley Forge Flag Co. with input from the Charleston Fire Department. It includes a variation on the fire department logo, the date of the fatal fire, "Charleston 9" and the words "ALL GAVE SOME, SOME GAVE ALL."
The coordinator of the project, Jay Seiler of Walhalla, said the purple field on the left symbolizes brotherly love, truth, royalty and righteousness. The white in the center symbolizes purity and innocence. The black on the right solemnizes their dedication, devotion and sacrificing themselves for others, he said.
Seiler said the flag is a fitting memorial, as flags have long stood for what firefighters and other service men and women embody — devotion to duty, honor, valor and sacrifice.
The city has given the flag company permission to sell The Charleston 9 Memorial Firefighter Flag to the public; proceeds will go to the South Carolina State Firefighters' Association Endowment.
The flag company donated the flags to the fire stations as well as nine flags for the families of the firefighters they honor. Each of those going to families flew for nine minutes at the stations where the fallen firefighters served, Seiler said. They will be presented to families privately.
Chief Rusty Thomas spoke at the ceremony, and pointed to the Charleston 9's heroic actions as inspiration to others. He told a group of recruits, who began training Monday, "If this doesn't inspire you to go on and make the best you can be in the Charleston Fire Department, I don't think anything else will."
As Chaplain Rob Dewey led the closing prayer, a call could be heard over fire station 19's speakers. Without delay, the firefighters boarded their truck as the flag of their fallen brothers waved.
To buy a flag
For more information or to buy a flag, visit charleston9flag.com or call 864-723-1883.