Columbia County leaders, emergency responders and residents gathered under sunny skies at Evans Towne Center Park Tuesday to honor first responders, military personnel and victims of the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attacks.
Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commander of Fort Gordon’s 7th Signal Command, spoke to the crowd to remember all who were lost on a day and the resulting conflicts and to honor emergency and military personnel for their sacrifices.
“It was a day of heroism by ordinary Americans doing what Americans do in tragic and extraordinary times, rising to the challenge helping others and in short, simply being American,” Morrison said.
That day that shaped American history, Morrison said, was one that “profoundly changed” the country and an entire generation in an instant.
Of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and American Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field, 411 were emergency responders including police, medical personnel and firefighters.
Columbia County Fire Rescue Batt. Chief Dino Cesarini rang a memorial bell. The crowd stood motionless and silent as the fire department dispatcher performed the last call the Fire Department of New York over the radio as a tribute to the 343 fallen firefighters.
“Dispatch to FDNY ... ,” the dispatcher said. “Dispatch to FDNY. .... Dispatch to FDNY. ... May we never forget you and always honor and cherish your memory.”
Morrison praised the civilians and military personnel who put themselves at risk every day to protect others.
He said the annual remembrance ceremony is a time to reflect and remember and serves as a testament to the resilient American spirit.
“No matter when we were born, all of us are part of a generation shaped by the events of Sept. 11,” Morris said. “I know together, we will continue to make the United State of America a symbol of hope, opportunity, prosperity and compassion for all free-loving people around the world.”