FORT JACKSON, SC -- The Fort Jackson community celebrated America's birthday a day early this year with a time-honored tradition and firework extravaganza.

Thousands of Soldiers, family members, civilians and local community members covered Hilton Field Saturday as they attended Fort Jackson's annual Torchlight Tattoo, which was coordinated by the Soldier Support Institute.

Festivities began early for children of all ages who enjoyed carnival rides, crafts, food and live music.

Basic Combat Training Soldiers, who were allowed a break from training to attend the event, hollered and cheered as opening act, Eric Horner, sang patriotic songs, including his hit, Soldiers of Tomorrow.

Then they jammed to the music of the 282nd Army Band's rock group, "Close Quarters," who performed popular cover songs for the crowd.

As dusk fell, the traditional "Torchlight Tattoo" ceremony began, in which torches were lit and flags were displayed, representing each of the nation's 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia.

The 282nd Army Band performed the national anthem and the "1812 Overture," accompanied by a cannon salute.

To top it all off, a 30-minute firework display lit up the evening sky, serving as the grand finale for the Independence Day event.
Spectator Robin George said Torchlight Tattoo was the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

"I loved it," George said. "I'm patriotic, so I loved seeing the Soldiers, I loved that my kids got to see the Soldiers, and I loved the atmosphere. It was a fantastic show."