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Remembering 9/11, the day America stood still
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Today marks the 12th anniversary of a tragedy that forever changed America and shocked the world.

A series of terrorist attacks were carried out by Osama bin Laden, founder of a militant Islamist organization called al-Qaeda, that took the lives of 2,977 Americans.

Beginning at 9 a.m., today, Dawson County Emergency Services will hold a special 9/11 Remembrance Service at Fire Station No. 1, located at 393 Memory Lane.

Three Dawson County business owners were uniquely affected by the attacks.

Dr. Kurt Tompkins and his brother Eric are New York natives. During the attacks, Eric resided in Georgia and his brother lived in Long Island, N.Y.

I was in Long Island, 45-minutes outside of the city and my girlfriend, now my wife, called me and asked if I had heard of a couple planes running into the towers, said Kurt. I thought, How does that happen? Did air control fall asleep or something? How do you hit a building? She told me they thought it was terrorism.

Tompkins said he drove back to his home. He was having trouble getting reception on his television, but heard a voice on his radio.

I remember them saying, the tower is falling.

Tompkins had been to the trade towers and is familiar with their size. He said he thought the announcer meant the antenna on top of the buildings was falling.

I didnt realize it was the actual tower, he said. I finally got the news on and was able to see what was happening it was just unbelievable.

Tompkins called the days following the attacks surreal.

It was the most bizarre feeling ever in New York City, he said. It was so quiet; you heard nothing. . . Everyone was just looking at each other because you didnt know where the next attack was going to happen, and where it would come from.

I remember the intensity of it. I remember just sitting around talking with friends about it, and everyone would just start crying.

Tompkins later learned that the husband of one of his patients was a NYPD fire chief and had died in the attacks as did his son.

Separately, Ebrahim Eddie Akbarshahi, president of QuickStop Foods, Inc. has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years. A native of Iran, he remembers how he felt after the attacks.

America is my home, he said. When America was attacked, my home was attacked.

Akbarshahi said people who knew him, supported him, but others showed anger toward him because of his background.

In any country there are good people and bad people, he said So, we cannot put everyone in the same shoes.

He also pointed out that the U.S. is becoming more diverse and that the country should focus on whats happening at home.

Its much better than 30 years ago, he said. . . . I think the only way we are going to get stronger is by not focusing so much on what is going on overseas and put the focus on whats going on inside America.

We need to create jobs here and stop outsourcing to other countries. We need to help the average American make their money and live better. It can be done if we work together.

Six in 10 Americans side with Abkarshahi oppose military strikes in Syria, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll posted online Sept. 9.

Editor/Publisher Kimberly Boim contributed to this report.