Fifteen years ago yesterday, the world stopped turning when terrorists waged attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., causing the collapse of the Twin Towers and the loss of 3,000 beautiful lives – including more than 400 firefighters and police officers.
And yesterday, on the fifteenth anniversary of that unspeakably tragic day, a former law-enforcement officer and a retired firefighter came together to paint the landmark Folly Boat to pay homage to the fallen.
Folly resident Elizabeth Baker, who spent many years in law-enforcement, explains, “We saw that no one had painted a tribute yet, so we decided that it needed to be done. Too many lives were lost that day.”
Having spent the morning with her retired firefighter friend walking alongside nearly 2,000 active and former firefighters and first responders participating in the third annual 9/11 Silent Walk on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Baker wanted to bring that same sense of honor and reflection to Folly Beach.
The iconic Folly Boat served as a fitting vessel — past tributes to 9/11 contribute to the boat’s caked-on layers of flaking paint from decades of dedications.
Earlier in the weekend, one such memorial created out of the Folly Boat began making the rounds on social media. Like Baker’s, the paintwork was simple but packed with sentiment. That particular tribute from 2011 was emblazoned with the words “Never 4 Get” while, from the boat’s center, makeshift Twin Towers stood tall.
This year’s tribute reads, “A memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend – even a friend whose name it never knew.” Beside the quote is inscribed 9/11, with the latter numeral represented by visages of the Twin Towers.
Ask any American today where they were when the Towers fell, and you’ll like get an immediate (and emotional) response. More than a decade after our country experienced some of her darkest days, the pain still sometimes wells up and spills out of our eyes or is betrayed by the crack in our voices.
For the families of those lost, it’s a pain that will never go away and, for our country, it’s a wound that will never fully heal.
In today’s fast-paced, information-overload society, a gesture as simple as a tribute painted on a boat at Folly Beach is a much needed reminder to stop and reflect – to be silent in the midst of the maddening din and remember those whose lives were taken, as well as those who gave their lives willingly in the hope that they might save the lives of others.
We will never forget.