Following Columbia, the exhibition will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina.
COLUMBIA, S.C.-- The National September 11 Memorial & Museum today launched its national tour with the opening of a tribute exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina.
The tour, which honors the nearly 3,000 men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, is intended to raise funds and awareness in support of building the National Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero.
In a ceremony at Columbia's Finlay Park, first responders and family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 were among the first to sign a steel beam that will be used in the construction of the Memorial & Museum.
The exhibition tells the story of September 11th through photographs, artifacts and a short film from the point of view of families, responders, survivors, volunteers and everyday people who came together in the aftermath of the attacks.
People from across the country are invited to come together again to pay tribute to the victims and to sign a steel beam that will be used in the construction of the Memorial & Museum.
"In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, our nation came together in a show of extraordinary unity," said New York City Mayor and National September 11 Memorial & Museum Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg. "Building the National Memorial & Museum is an opportunity for people to come together again to create a lasting legacy for future generations.
"This tour will allow people across the country to take part in the creation of a new monument that signifies our response to the attacks and offers hope for the future."
"Through this national tour we will involve as many Americans as possible in the building of the Memorial & Museum. September 11, 2001, was a defining event in this country's history, and we are creating a national symbol that, like the Statue of Liberty, will tell us something about who we are as Americans," said Joe Daniels, President and CEO, National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The exhibition's opening ceremonies included remarks from South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford; Columbia Mayor Bob Coble; South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stuart; First Sergeant, USMC (Ret.) and White Knoll High School ROTC Instructor David Pelley; Tom Johnson, Memorial & Museum Board member who lost his son on 9/11; and National September 11 Memorial & Museum President Joe Daniels.
Students from White Knoll Middle School, the school that raised more than half a million dollars in 2001 to purchase a truck for New York City's Fire Department, helped begin the event by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
They were led by Maurice Hellman, a Senior at White Knoll High School, and one of the students who helped raise money in the wake of the attacks, and were presented with a certificate dedicating a cobblestone on the Memorial Plaza in the students' honor.
Anthoula Katsimatides, Memorial & Museum Board member who lost her brother on 9/11, and Marcelo Pevida, New York City Police Officer (Ret.) and 9/11 First Responder, joined the ceremony. On behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Pevida presented the City of Columbia and its first responders with an American flag that was flown over Ground Zero.
After the ceremony, participants signed a steel beam that will be used in the construction of the Memorial & Museum. The event concluded with a tour of the exhibition, which includes a detailed timeline of the events of September 11, photographs, artifacts and a short film.
The exhibition will remain in Columbia on September 11, with Memorial & Museum representatives participating in the city's commemorative Freedom Walk.
"September 11th was a shared tragedy; a day that touched every American no matter where we were or what we were doing," said Columbia Mayor Bob Coble.
"We are honored that the tour to raise awareness for the National Memorial & Museum is starting in Columbia, South Carolina. This exhibition is about paying tribute to those who lost their lives and honoring those whose selfless acts saved lives.