WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Friday night was the seventh annual Fireman's Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony at the West Ashley High School.
The annual ceremony honors the Charleston 9 by ringing a bell after their name is called and also lighting a candle in remembrance of them.
Charleston fire fighters, ROTC cadets, and students attended the ceremony, as well as Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton's sister and niece.
ROTC members lit the candles, but when Drayton's name was called his niece Shania Drayton was able to do the honor.
"It felt great lighting the candle because I got to light the candle in memorial of him and the rest of the guys who are like family to me," Shania Drayton said.
Her mother and James "Earl" Drayton's sister said the last nine years haven't been easy.
"I walk past his picture every day in my house and I have his memorial in his house and I see it but I think it try and think of the good times and things he's instilled in me," Sendra Drayton said.
She also said she sees a lot of his qualities within her daughter Shania.
"He just brought happiness into her life. When she speaks of him I mean it's just like you know my uncle this is my uncle you know and it feels good to me to know that she has people in her family she can be very proud of," Sendra Drayton said.
"It feels great because I know he's right in heaven looking down on me," Shania Drayton said.