The sound of fifth-graders’ voices raised in patriotic song ended a day filled with ceremonies to honor the nearly 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
The fifth-grade students of Mount Vernon Elementary performed Thursday during the school’s Parent and Teacher Organization meeting and dedicated the packed ceremony to the lives of the Americans who perished that day.
The students also honored the men and women in their communities who have served in the armed forces, as well as those firefighters and sheriff’s deputies who keep those in Hall County safe every day.
Wearing the casual American uniform of a T-shirt and blue jeans, the chorus of students stood under a banner reading "Never Forget Sept. 11." During one song, the fifth-graders sang the lyrics "The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away."
Although the children in the chorus were about 4 years old in 2001 and are more likely to recall the events of Sept. 11 through a history book than their own memory, Mount Vernon Elementary parent Susan Bracewell said her son Jake Bracewell has some insight into the historic meaning of that tragic day.
"I’m sure they don’t remember it as much as the older kids, but I do think they realize how big of a threat it was and that we’re not quite invincible," she said.
Susan Bracewell said she thought the performance was a wonderful tribute to the veterans and public service people in attendance.
Gary Ewing, an Army veteran and father of a Mount Vernon Elementary fifth-grader, said he felt honored to be acknowledged for his service to the country with his daughter looking on with her peers.
"It’s very special," Ewing said. "I think it means something to her that I’ve served."
Hall County fire Capt. Scott Cagle agreed it was humbling to partake in the day of events recognizing veterans and those in public service.
"Hearing those fifth-graders sing tugs at your heart," Cagle said. "It reminds you why you do what you do every day."
Forsyth County honors public safety personnel
CUMMING — Danny Bowman sobbed Thursday as he read a poem honoring firefighters and rescue personnel who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Bowman, Forsyth County’s fire chief, said the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11 were "doing what firemen were trained to do."
The event, which drew a crowd of about 50 to the Liberty Garden at the Central Park Recreation Center, was one of three Thursday morning in Forsyth County that helped mark the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The ceremony, which was sponsored by Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, also featured a performance by the Forsyth Central High School "Maskers," a drama troupe.
At nearby Coal Mountain Elementary School, public safety workers sat together over a hot meal during a Patriot Day luncheon. Also, the Forsyth Cumming Optimist Club welcomed Secretary of State Karen Handel to its meeting Thursday. During her speech, Handel thanked members of the military for their service and talked about the importance of voting.
Dawson County chaplain promotes forgiveness
DAWSONVILLE — A remembrance held Thursday morning at the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center encouraged forgiveness.
"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."
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.
Times regional staff writers Julie Arrington, Jennifer Sami, Frank Reddy and Michele Hester contributed to this report.