Laurie Rose is a North Charleston fire captain. But 10 years ago this weekend she was trying to put out the fires at the Pentagon.

Her memories are vivid: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld holding an "IV bag" over someone on a stretcher and the panoramic view of the smoking building. But a particularly haunting image comes from when she was asked to walk around the damage, placing tiny marker flags near body parts.

"A nose," she told hundreds gathered Friday for the Charleston region's lead-off 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Performing Arts Center. "A perfect nose like it was plucked off your face."

Rose was one of three speakers Friday who told of their life journeys from the events of 9/11, to living in Charleston today. Joining her on the stage were David Palawasta of Charleston County EMS, whose roots are in New York, and Brian Womble of the Charleston FBI office.

On 9/11, Womble lived in Rhode Island. He was one of the agents who retracing the hijackers' route. He even searched one of their travel bags left behind at Boston's Logan Airport.

On the morning of the attacks, Rose was a rookie working for the Alexandria (Va.) Fire Department. She remembers it being a slow day until she was called in to watch TV broadcasts of planes flying into the World Trade Center. Moments later came the alert: "Plane crash into the Pentagon. This is not a drill."

"There was a 'quiet' in the fire house that even a rookie knows is really, really wrong," she said.

At the Pentagon there was chaos. Rose helped cut the equivalent of a fire break in trying to stop the spread of flames though the five-story building. She remembered seeing a city under attack and the whirling lights of rescue vehicles.

"Those days are a blur, and I'm glad they are," she said.

After the attacks -- and the later D.C. sniper case -- Rose left the Washington area for North Charleston. She mainly wanted to find a place where her daughter would feel safe.

Even with all that she saw that day, Rose said the meaning of Friday's ceremony was to remember others who responded and those who lost their lives.

"I knew they were doing what they were trained to do, without regrets," she said.