Residents of Dawson and Forsyth counties paid tribute Friday to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the eighth anniversary of the event.
In Dawson County, community members gathered in front of Fire Station 1 to honor more than 3,000 men, women and children who lost their lives eight years ago.
"Everyone 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 by what happened in 2001."
He reflected on the lives lost during the tragedy, and challenged those present to make the most of each day, expressing love and thanks to family members and co-workers.
"Sept. 11 reminds us of where we all are today. There were people killed that did not get to kiss their loved ones goodbye, words they could have said that they did not get the chance to say," Rogers said. "Enjoy the blessings that you have right now today. Lets not be hasty in remembering the past, but let us be hasty in taking care of the necessities today. We never know when tragedy will hit."
The flags in front of the station were flown at half staff, as ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue last week.
Capt. Jamerson Kerby of Dawson County Emergency Services was one of several public safety members to attend the ceremony, and said it was a tasteful and appropriate way to honor those who are no longer with us today.
"Even eight years later, we still need to remember what happened and take some time out of our day to pay our respects," Kerby said. "Chad Rogers delivered an excellent message, and this year has been the biggest turnout so far."
Local and state politicians joined residents and public safety personnel at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex to honor the 9/11 victims.
Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman said the ceremony was intentionally kept "as brief as the moment when the towers dropped."
A piece of a beam from one of the structures that crumbled in the attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center was on display at the complex. Some who attended touched the beam and paused while the names of 343 firefighters who died were read aloud.
Bowman said he asked for the beam, which came to Forsyth County in 2006.
"There was no monument to 9/11 in the Southeast and the New York Fire Department brought it to us," Bowman said.
The event included a three-gun salute by Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies and poetry honoring those who died while trying to rescue others.
Steve Cseh brought his family to the ceremony. The Forsyth County resident said they honor the 9/11 anniversary every year because he and his wife want their children to remember.
"I find that 9/11 is something we should never forget," Cseh said. "I’m very surprised in a positive way that Forsyth County chooses to honor 9/11."
Charles Laughinghouse, chairman of the Forsyth County commission, said the ceremony was "moving and very touching."
In a separate event Friday afternoon, volunteers with Hands on Forsyth participated in a silverware wrap and card-writing activity for military personnel. The project was part of a National Day of Service and Remembrance effort.