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9/11 memorial events remind Americans that real heroes still do exist
Public safety officers honor colleagues who fell in 2001 attacks
Emergency personnel gathered Friday morning at Gainesville's public safety facility for a ceremony in memory of 9/11.

Fourteen years after 9/11, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch recalled the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and how “real heroes still do exist.”

“We resolved to not allow this tragedy to break our nation,” Couch said.

Law enforcement and state officials gathered Friday at First Baptist Church in Gainesville for a memorial program. Emergency personnel gathered later for another ceremony at Gainesville’s public safety facility on Queen City Parkway.

Keith Smith, spokesman for the Gainesville Fire Department, speaking after the Gainesville event, stressed the importance of remembering 9/11, not just today but every day, as do families who lost loved ones that day.

“It caused us to reflect upon why someone would take such an act like this,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said at the earlier breakfast event.

Cagle recalled how the days after the attacks led to the country becoming “united together better than I think I can ever remember.”

“We came together because it was not only the right thing to do, it was because we were Americans, and Americans stand together,” he said.

Returning to his childhood, Cagle recalled days under the shade tree with his grandfather, who served in both World War I and World War II.

“We would talk, but he never really talked about his service,” Cagle said.

Cagle wondered about the missing part of his grandfather’s ear that had a metal plate in place, a war wound Cagle’s mother would later explain.

“I didn’t really comprehend it as much as a child, but obviously as I grew older, I began to understand more about my grandfather and more about this love of country, more about this sense of duty,” he said.

Marking the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, the Gainesville Public Safety Complex tolled the bells for fallen firefighters and held a moment of silence at 10 a.m. Friday.

“Let our service to others be a reminder to all that we will never forget the sacrifice made that day,” Gainesville Deputy Fire Chief Scott Stowers said.

The life of law enforcement, Cagle said, is “a life about others.”

“I take great pride in the job that these men and women do each and every day in our community across this nation, across this state to keep us safe,” Couch said.