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Gainesville honors public safety personnel on 9/11 anniversary

Attacks changed nation, Cagle says at Flat Creek Baptist Church event

POSTED: September 11, 2012 11:07 p.m.

Gainesville firefighters and visitors observe a moment of silence Tuesday morning at the Gainesville Public Safety Complex on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

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The attacks on the United States 11 years ago changed the face of America, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Tuesday morning in a prayer breakfast for local law enforcement.

Cagle gave the keynote address at the annual event, held at Flat Creek Baptist Church, on the 11th anniversary of terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, led to two wars and changed the nation’s approach to national security.

It also renewed nationwide honor for firefighters and local law enforcement, a theme that rang true at Tuesday’s breakfast and at a later event at a Gainesville fire station.

Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said those involved in the rescue attempts in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did not lose their lives but rather “gave their lives.”

Cagle also expressed his admiration for the local community’s public safety employees, saying they put on their uniforms each day “not knowing what might be behind that door.”

“You do it, because you want to make your community safer,” Cagle said. “All of you in law enforcement, you have to be courageous, you have to have character, you have to have conviction to do your job.”

Tuesday was the last annual prayer breakfast of Cronic’s 12-year tenure as sheriff. Gerald Couch will take the office in January.

“I cannot tell you what this man has not only meant to our community, but to the state of Georgia and me, personally,” Cagle said of the retiring Cronic.

Following a moment of silence, at 9:59 a.m. at Gainesville’s Fire Station No. 1, an employee rang a bell.

The bell tolled at the same time the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Four sets of five rings signified those who were lost on 9/11 and not found. The signal has been used by New York City firefighters since the 1800s.

“This signifies those that have gone on and gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said. “At this very moment, they were in their worst nightmare.”

The event 11 years ago “changed the face of public safety,” Canada said.

The city’s police chief, Brian Kelly, said the memorial services honored the memories of the past and served to “thank those that continue to put their lives on the line every day.”

And while the memorial centered on those who were lost, Canada turned the attention to the lives that were saved, thanks to firefighters and law enforcement officers brave enough to enter the tower.

“It’s not just a job, it’s a calling,” he said.



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