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Ceremonies mark 9/11 anniversary

POSTED: September 10, 2012 10:56 a.m.

Military and civilian leaders walk together during the freedom walk Sept. 11, 2011, in Hinesville. More events are planned for this year’s 9/11 commemoration.

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Tuesday marks 11 years since 9/11, and several community organizations will hold observances to ensure that Americans never forget the somber day.
“We can’t let 9/11 disappear,” said Dennis Fitzgerald, commander of the East Liberty County American Legion Post 321. “To honor those that gave their lives, to remember all the military and first responders who are always ready to respond to any of these incidents, … we have to keep doing it. We have a tendency to get lazy and forget about things that happened in our past.”
The American Legion Post 321, Lyman Hall Elementary School, Bradwell Institute and Fort Stewart will mark the anniversary with ceremonies. Many other schools will observe a moment of silence and are asking students to wear red, white and blue.
The Legion will hold its second annual 9/11 observance this year, but the event has moved to the field next to Riceboro City Hall. Last year, about 60 people attended the commemoration in Midway, Fitzgerald said. He hopes for between 60 and 100 people this year.
The ceremony will have an invocation and guest speaker before moving into flag retirement and proper disposal.
“If people want to bring flags, we’ll be more than willing to take them from them and properly dispose of them,” he said, adding that too few know the protocol for handling flags.
At Lyman Hall Elementary School, parents are invited to join in the annual Freedom Walk, which will begin with a brief rally at 8:30 a.m., according to parent-involvement coordinator Lavonia LeCounte.  
“We are truly excited about being able to do this,” LeCounte said. “It’s a very touching moment for all of us that day.”
Speakers include Liberty County Board of Education Chairwoman Lily Baker and Lt. Col. Justin D. Hadley of the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
First responders also will be on hand to escort students through a lap around campus.
Even though the majority of LHE students were not alive on 9/11, LeCounte said the event and parents’ reactions generate interest among students.
“After last year’s ceremony, our media center was flooded with children going to the media center trying to check out books on 9/11 and reading up on it … They had so many questions,” she said.
Those who attend will be required to sign in and wear visitor stickers and are asked to wear red, white and blue to uphold the theme, she said.
Bradwell Institute ROTC also will hold a ceremony at 2:00 p.m. Liberty Elementary School will hold Constitution Day and flag ceremonies on Sept. 17; events will include student performances and the Liberty County High School JROTC.
The public also is invited to a remembrance ceremony with prayer and speeches from 9:30-11 a.m. at Fort Stewart’s Main Post Chapel, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.  
“We should celebrate 9/11 because it’s a day that forever changed our lives,” Larson said. “For us in the military, it’s especially important to celebrate because its reminds us of why we serve and of the sacrifices of those who’ve served, in addition to all the families whose lives were touched that dreadful day.”
Those on the installation also will be asked to observe four moments of silence for each of the planes involved in the attack.
Reflecting on the purpose of such events, Fitzgerald ties the day to a bigger historical picture.
“Why is it important to remember any hero?” Fitzgerald said. “We remember our founding fathers, remember those who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, remember the veterans of Vietnam and Korea and our younger veterans now — we just cannot forget them and what they’re willing to sacrifice every day.”

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