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9/11 ceremony quiets downtown Gainesville
Gainesville fire chief Jon Canada speaks to a group of city and county firefighters during a Sept. 11 observance Friday. - photo by Tom Reed
Just as most people were frozen in place as they watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfold, the traffic on Jesse Jewell Parkway stood still Friday morning.

Traffic was stopped by the Gainesville Police Department for two minutes in commemoration of the tragic event.

"As a nation, we should never forget that day or stop doing what we can to make sure that it never happens again," said police chief Frank Hooper.

During the ceremony outside Gainesville Fire Station No. 1, a bell was rung to symbolize the moment when one of the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed during terrorist attacks eight years ago.

The commemoration was attended by dozens of residents, city officials and public safety employees.

"Today we will preserve the memory of the more than 2,900 individuals who through terrorist attacks on our country lost their lives," said fire chief Jon Canada. "Of these, law enforcement lost 60 police officers, the fire service lost 343 firefighters — firefighters and police officers who lost their lives in the attempt to save a life.

"It has been noted that to lay down your life for your fellow man is the ultimate sacrifice. We reflect not only on their sacrifice but on the sacrifice of their families left behind. We will honor them for their courage and acts of bravery."

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 not only changed the lives of those who lost loved ones, but it also changed the way that many governmental agencies conduct business.

"The country as a whole has changed so much since that day eight years ago," said Hooper. "We all work together more. Instead of it being each independent department, we work together more as one unit."

Even though the attack happened eight years ago, some say that the remembrance ceremonies should continue for the foreseeable future.

"That event was such a great tragedy for this country," Canada said. "Sometimes it’s easy to become complacent and go back to normal. Getting back to normal routines were good to help us pull through, but so many people gave and lost their lives that day."

Canada said Americans should never forget those who died on Sept. 11.

"Some were victims, some were rescue workers and some helped to divert one of the planes — but in my eyes they are all heroes. I still get knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes when I think about it. As a country we lost so much that day and I think it is important to continue to remember their lives and honor their sacrifice."

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