Wednesday, November 14, 2001

134 years ago, New York City firemen raised money to buy Columbia, South Carolina a firetruck (a hose carriage). Columbia had just experienced a fire that destroyed 36 blocks of the city. All this happened shortly after the Civil War, and considerable tensions existed between the north and the south.

"Today, the firemen of Northern New York strike hands with their comrades of Southern Columbia, and in so doing, we call upon our fellow citizens of the two great sections to emulate our example, and thus hasten a restoration ... of our once beautiful and still united national fabric," said Henry Wilson, president of the New York Firemen's Association in a speech to Columbians June 28, 1867.

Columbia leaders made a pledge back then to not forget that gift. And forget it, they haven't, raising enough money to buy New York City a firetruck in return (and then some). White Knoll Middle School started the campaign, and when local firefighters were informed of the fundraiser by the school, their historians brought the civil war era gift from New York into the picture. With the support of the Columbia community, the middle school has raised $447,265.41 in 57 days, surpassing their goal by almost $100,000.00. The historical tie wasn't originally known about by the students and teachers who began this effort.
- William Slawski

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