Community members gathered last week to remember the day that has forever changed how America lives.
Ive said many times this (attacks on Sept. 11, 2001) is the Pearl Harbor of our generation, Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said at a Patriot Day ceremony Thursday. It changed how America lives. It changed our fears and it changed our realities.
Following a prayer, pledge and singing of the National Anthem by Chance Passmore, attendees of the service listened to the words of Emergency Services Chaplain Charles Blackstock.
Blackstocks speech focused on the heroism of emergency workers who lost their lives the day airplanes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. That day, 2,977 people were killed. Among those, 414 were emergency workers.
The events of that day didnt define them as heroes, Blackstock said. It just revealed them.
Blackstock said he thought holding a service each year is important to continue to remember the lives lost and to show gratitude for those who protect the community and country. Gratitude requires a good memory, and when we fail to remember the actual deeds another does toward us and our community we fail to appreciate what has been done.
That is one of the reasons Dawsonville resident Andrew McPherson said he decided to attend the ceremony.
It affected so many people in the U.S. and across the world, said McPherson, who served in the Navy. And I hadnt really been remembering as well I should.
Tommy Matera, who was a policeman for 24 years, said he came out to support military and emergency services. Matera said he was getting ready for a doctors appointment when he heard about the attacks. I thought the first plane had just gotten off course and when I saw the second one I knew it was no accident, he said.
Sherman Heaton said he and his wife were living in Florida on Sept. 11, 2001, and traveling to take care of their cattle when he heard about the attack. I saw the second one (plane) on TV at a gas station where he had stopped while traveling , he said. It put chills right up and down my body.
Following Thursdays ceremony, emergency services received a special gift from students at Riverview Elementary. Fifth-graders collected snacks and food for the staffers to enjoy while they are on duty. They also brought aprons, a banner and cards thanking them for their service.
Fifth grade teacher Debby Boyd referred to attending the ceremony as an opportunity for students to live history. We just love this, she said. This is what it is all about to be a teacher. It is what school should be about.