Hundreds of Charleston residents and tourists stood on street corners downtown and in West Ashley early Friday morning to watch as a long line of fire trucks and cruisers filed from East Bay Street to the North Charleston Coliseum.

Trucks from as far off as Ohio and New Orleans followed Charleston’s fleet, adorned with black sashes on the front of each truck. Firefighters in black suits or their officer blues sat with solemn faces as crowds looked on, some clutching their hearts, others hugging each other. Traffic on the route stopped as workers paused from their morning commute to watch the solemn parade.

A woman stood near the front of the procession wearing a firefighters hat. A small boy on Calhoun street wore a firefighter costume. As his mother was leading him to the car afterwards, she asked him and his older sister if they know what they were there for. The girl responded with a barely audible, “no.” The boy shuffled along behind, not seeming to understand either.

“We came to honor our heroes.”