Best way to remember 9/11: Honor those who serve now

A framed photo of the Twin Towers sits against a curb in honor of a 9/11 victim near Ground Zero during the 10th anniversary ceremony in New York.

9/11/01. At 8:46:30, Flight 11 crashes into the first Twin Tower, beginning a day of horror that Americans will not forget. President George Bush wrote in his diary that night that “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today ...”

While nearly 3,000 people died, the terrorist attacks will also be known for the heroic deeds of first responders, and their tireless work afterward to recover fallen comrades.

Our memory is preserved in many ways, and giving back is one way to honor those who died 11 years ago. This year, the Charleston County Library has an exhibit called “First Responders Provide the 'Keys' to Our Safety” that will run Sept. 11 to Oct. 23.

The book, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” this year's One Book Charleston County selection, plays an important role in it. The 9-year-old main character loses his father on 9/11, finds a key in his father's closet and sets out on a mission to find the key's owner and what it opens.

Not only will children across the Lowcountry be reading and discussing the book, but everyone has a way to honor first responders who provided a lifeline for those in crisis.

The Charleston County Public Library wants you to share your appreciation by writing a note of thanks. Stop by any branch library and pick up a paper “key,” and share your gratitude for the men and women who risk their lives to save others. A display will be created with the “keys of thanks” at the Main Library.

After One Book Charleston County ends Oct. 23, the keys will be delivered to emergency service agencies throughout the county.

It's one small tangible way to show our police, firefighters and EMS folks just how much we appreciate them.

Another way to honor those deeds is to become part of a Community Emergency Response Team that assists the first responders in case of an emergency or major disaster.

Community Emergency Response Teams are groups of volunteer citizens who are trained to assist the community when emergency services may not be immediately available. CERT is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT members are trained in disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology and basic terrorism awareness.

Once you have training, CERT members participate in disaster response exercises, help raise money for emergency response equipment in their area and assist with first-aid and crowd control at local events.

Dorchester County is starting a new CERT class Sept. 27. County residents must be 18 years or older. The class is free and will meet 6-9 p.m. every Thursday night for eight weeks at Ridgeville Town Hall.

There's no better way to honor the service of those who died than to be prepared to help the next time you are needed. For information on the CERT class, call Theresa McKnight at 832-0341.

More details are at lcert.org or charlestoncounty.org.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postandcourier.com.