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Hall, Gainesville plan 9/11 memorial events
County, city marking 14th anniversary of attacks
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Sept. 11 events

Memorial breakfast

Hosted by: Hall County Sheriff’s Office

When: 7 a.m. Friday

Where: First Baptist Church banquet hall, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville


Memorial service

Hosted by: City of Gainesville

When: 9:45 a.m. Friday

Where: Public Safety Complex, Fire Station No. 1, 725 Pine St., Gainesville

A firefighter who worked the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had moved by Sept. 11, 2001, but lost multiple friends that day.

Hall County Deputy Fire Chief Chad Black heard his story in a training class last week with Johns Creek firefighters. Those retold stories still have impact.

“It still hits home, makes you think about it,” Black said.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a Sept. 11 breakfast that’s open to the public at 7 a.m. Friday in the banquet hall of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. NW, and features Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Sheriff Gerald Couch. Breakfast will be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sheriff’s Office secretary Michelle Thrasher will be singing “Amazing Grace,” and Deputy Jonathan Jackson will sing the national anthem.

Also, 13-year-old Alex Foster will be playing a violin piece. After reaching out to the Sheriff’s Office at a “coffee with a cop” event two years ago, Alex has participated in multiple events with the office.

The city of Gainesville is holding its Sept. 11 memorial service at 9:45 a.m. Friday at the Public Safety Complex, Fire Station No. 1, 725 Pine St.

Gainesville Fire Department spokesman Keith Smith said the event will honor the memory of the approximately 3,000 people who died in the attacks that day in New York; Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Among those killed, Smith said, were 343 firefighters and 60 law enforcement officers.

Smith recalls giving firehouse tours to Centennial Elementary on Sept. 11 and hearing the news.

“We’ll never forget,” Smith said.

Smith said Chris Boykin of Hall County Fire Services will play “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, and Jackson will sing the national anthem.

Honor guards will stage at the flagpole, and the American flag will be lowered at 9:59 a.m. to remember when the South Tower collapsed at the World Trade Center. The service will also have multiple series of five bell strikes used to honor fallen firefighters.

Smith expects between 100 and 200 residents to show up for the memorial service. He said he’s already hoping to have the 2016 event at the Roosevelt Square public safety memorial in downtown Gainesville, which is scheduled for completion next year.

Black said “Sept. 11 completely changed the way we do things. It put a whole different perspective and continues to evolve.”

Smith said having a 9/11 memorial service each year helps people remember those who gave their lives helping others during the tragedy.

“Nobody knew those towers were going to collapse,” Smith said.

Hall Sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes said the unity forged from Sept. 11 is something that should be recaptured this week.

“From the devastation of that day came the appreciation for first responders, the many men and women that sacrifice their own lives when the lives of others are in danger,” Bailes said. “It is important that we continue to remember the lives lost on that tragic day, but it is equally important to remember the lives of the first responders that so selflessly gave their lives to save others and continue to do so today.”

Black said in the firefighting profession in particular, 9/11 will always carry great significance. Many firefighters carry a memento or relic to remind them of the tragic day and the heroic actions of many.

“We all hold something in our lives and (it) keeps us in remembrance of that and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day,” Black said.

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