Area communities are gathering today to honor the more than 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives seven years ago today in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
A remembrance held this morning at the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center in Dawsonville offered encouragement of forgiveness.
Events also were scheduled throughout the day in Hall and Forsyth counties to mark Patriot Day, the name given to the anniversary of the attacks.
Many events also honor the men and women who serve and protect the community each day.
"Everyone here remembers exactly where they were when they first heard the news," said Chad Rogers, one of two chaplains for Dawson County Public Safety.
"Every individual that is standing here this morning was affected in some way, in some fashion, and is reformed by what happened in 2001.
"But if we can't leave here today with only the thought of forgiveness in our hearts, we've robbed ourselves of a great blessing."
Rogers reflected on the tragedy and the lives lost.
"On Sept. 11, 2001, our generation was presented with its tragedy. Before us, they lived through Pearl Harbor," he said.
"Sept. 11 reminds us of where we all are today. There were people killed that did not get to kiss their loved ones goodbye, words they could have said that did not get to fall from their lips."
Rogers discouraged those gathered from lamenting on the past.
"Is there a hug you should have offered? It's not about yesterday, ladies and gentlemen. It's about today," he said.
The ceremony also honored the men and women who give their lives every day to the safety and well-being of others.
"As we stand here today, we are thankful for the men and women of public safety that put their lives on the line for each and every one of us," said Dawson County Public Safety Chaplain Mike Owens, leading the group in prayer.
The ceremony ended with an observance of the national moment of silence at 8:45 a.m., the time recognized as the moment when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.
"We observe the moment of silence, not only for those who gave their lives freely and willingly, let's remember those that do it for us everyday," Rogers said. "We offer you our eternal gratitude. You put yourselves out in the lines to protect our families and we greatly appreciate it."
Among events held today in Hall County to mark the anniversary: Representatives of Hall County Fire Services spoke this morning to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Chestatee Middle School, an invocation and remembrance this afternoon at the Hall County commission meeting and a PTA presentation tonight at Mount Vernon Elementary School.
In Cumming, many civic and community leaders, employees and public safety officials gathered mid-day at the Liberty Garden in Central Park for the annual Patriot Day event.
In addition to a performance by Central Forsyth High School's Maskers drama group, several guest speakers will help honor fallen New York City firefighters and civilians.
At the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., a new memorial was dedicated at a ceremony attended by President Bush. The Pentagon Memorial contains 184 benches, one for each victim, that will glow with light in the night. Among those killed in the attack on the Pentagon was Gainesville native Edna Stephens.