Nearly 11 years removed from 9/11, Paulding County’s public safety officials still remember the attacks that led to the deaths of thousands of American civilians, police officers, firefighters and countless others.
“To this day, I know where I was at and what I was doing when it happened, and you talk to other people and they do too. Young men and women have sacrificed themselves since that day, and we need to show our support for our country and for our fellow police officers and firemen,” said Maj. Chad Hunton of the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.
Hunton will be among those taking part in Tuesday’s ceremony to remember those who lost their lives and sacrificed themselves for others during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The event, which will begin at 9 a.m. at Mt. Tabor Park, is a joint effort between the sheriff’s office and the Paulding County Fire Department.
“I think people need to be there, citizens and everyone, just to preserve the memory of the innocent victims lost that day,” Paulding County Deputy Fire Chief Joey Pelfrey said. “I was looking at some research—it’s always on my mind, I’m sure it is for a lot of public safety, firefighters, police and all—but there were over 3,500 people killed that day if you count the airplanes, the Pentagon, public safety workers and civilians. That’s a significant event, and I just think that’s something we need to keep as a reminder of all the sacrifices they make and that are still being made today with the military overseas.
“This gives us a chance to reflect and just remind us of what we have today, and to remind us of all those we lost. It’s very important to us in public safety, and I think a lot of American citizens and county citizens remember it, and it’s just a great day for us to do that and honor them.”
Much like last year’s event, this year’s ceremony will feature wreath presentations, a 21-gun salute, prayers, special readings and more. In addition to county public safety officials, taking part in the event will be members of the Retired New York City Shields of Georgia.
Last year’s ceremony was preceded by the dedication of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center—one of the targets in the 9/11 attacks. Locals can still see that artifact today at the Watson Government Complex in Dallas.
While turnout was strong at last year’s event, which fell on a Sunday, officials hope this year’s ceremony will still draw a good crowd.
“We had a big turnout last year because it was the 10-year anniversary,” Pelfrey said. “That was significant, especially since we had our artifact from the World Trade Center, we had had the ceremony for it, so that kind of got us started for the 10th anniversary, doing that and making people more aware of the sacrifices people made.
“But on a Tuesday morning, I don’t know what kind of turnout we’re expecting with it being a weekday. We usually have a good turnout though … and I know we’re going to have a lot of public safety people there.”
Hunton says he hopes those who aren’t working Tuesday morning, as well as those who can spare an hour away from work, will take the time to attend.
“I’ve trained all over the United States with other police officers, and we have a common bond,” he said. “Even though it didn’t directly affect us, a lot of us, we knew someone up there or had family affected by it.
“All the guys that are on the honor guard between fire and the sheriff’s office, we’re prior military as well, so we want to remember those folks too that are continuing to fight to keep our country safe so that we can have the freedom and liberties that we have.”