Ceremonies were held throughout the county commemorating the sacrifices made by public safety officials on Sept.
11, 2001, when two hijacked planes destroyed the World Trade Center, another damaged the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a rural field in Pennsylvania.
Sacrifice was the keystone of a noon ceremony at the Rome-Floyd Law Enforcement Center where a memorial now stands.
The Bible story of Joshua was used to explain the significance of the memorial, which pays tribute to Floyd County law enforcement officials who died in the line of duty.
That story tells how the children of Israel dropped a stone at the edge of the Jordan River to remind future generations of the hardships they endured during their wilderness journey, said Maj. Mike Ragland of the Rome Police Department.
The memorial plaza on the banks of the Oostanaula River also is a reminder for future generations “so our children and grandchildren may never forget about the thin blue line that stands between them and anarchy,” Ragland said.
The monument was unveiled during a tearful ceremony in which a sea of uniformed officers paid tribute to the 16 officers who have died in the line of duty.
“Before 9/11 people had very little respect for the men and women in uniform, but afterwards they became overnight heroes,” said Amanda Howard, daughter of Sgt. Gregg Howard, a Floyd County officer who was killed in 1994 as he directed traffic.
“They (the officers represented in the memorial) knew the risk of wearing the uniform long before Sept. 11,” she said, “but they don’t just do their job — they love it.”
Her grandmother, Eleanor Howard, and Floyd County Police Chief Jim Free unveiled the statue that towers over the lighted plaza on West Fifth Avenue.
“It is just great,” said Myra Hunt, whose husband Carl Dobbins was among those remembered in the memorial.
“Police officers really deserve this,” Hunt said. “All those living and dead deserve this. We need to recognize our police and firemen more than we do and this is a lovely tribute to them. I couldn’t help but cry.”
The family of former Rome officer Doug Meers said they also were pleased with the memorial, which features granite monuments of each officer.
“This is wonderful,” said April Bryan, Meers’ daughter. “It’s better than anything I could have imagined.”
“I was only 3 when he died but I think he would love it,” said Bryan.
Cave Spring students
show pride, patriotism
A less somber ceremony was held in Cave Spring, where students from the elementary school marched to City Hall. They were joined by students from the Georgia School for the Deaf and Cub Scout Pack 20.
Cave Spring firefighters, police and rescue workers were honored.
The significance of the day was not lost on the young students.
“It happened two days before my birthday. It was a horrible birthday present,” said Cave Spring Elementary fifth-grader Dena Wheeler.
“It was important to remember that day because the heroes died,” said Jessica Markrush, another fifth-grader.
Churches open doors
to help healing process
Faith, Romans said, has helped them through the past year after terror struck the nation.
“I don’t know how people got through it without faith,” said Susan Seagraves of Rome, who attended a special service Wednesday night at First Baptist Church to remember the events of Sept. 11 last year.
Similar services were held at churches throughout Greater Rome.
First Baptist Pastor Joel Snyder said that although the terrorist acts may not have been God’s will, he believes God is turning it into something positive.
“It was intended for evil, but God has already taken it and used it for something else,” he said.
Tina Rush of Rome and her son Dylan, 12, came to the service with their tennis coach before practice. She said she has been trying to stay away from the television for the past few days and is trying to focus on the positive.
“This was a nice way to come and remember what happened,” she said.
Wendy Payne of Rome found peace in the message Snyder presented.
“I just knew it would be a comfort,” she said. “My faith is very strong and what Joel said was perfect.”
For Shorter College student Laura Davis, Sept. 11 hit close to home.
“I have two friends who worked at the World Trade Center who didn’t happen to go to work that day.”
Nearly 1,000 people
attend Forum event
As the day of remembrance and reflection came to a close, an “I Love America Community Service” ceremony at The Forum Wednesday night featured several local church choirs and speeches from community leaders.
Active duty Marine Staff Sgt. Kevin Richards of Miami, stationed since June with Rome’s Reserve Detachment 1, Ammunition Company, attended the ceremony with his wife, Kim, and his three children, Kiana, 6, Kevin Jr., 3, and Kiara, who will be 2 in four days.
“As Americans, we need to keep on living the way we’re living,” said Richards, a 12-year veteran of the Corps. “We’re Americans and nothing is going to stop us.”
After several moving performances, guest speaker Rick Spaulding was introduced.
Spaulding retired March 23 from the New York City Police Department but was on active duty when the two passenger jets slammed into both towers of the World Trade Center.
Dressed in a crisp navy blue suit with gold buttons and a mirror-shined badge, he told the crowd of nearly 1,000 how his fellow officers thought the first jetliner collision was an accident until the second jet hit. It was at that moment they knew the attacks were deliberate.
Spaulding said he worked for 40 straight hours, first on sniper duty to secure the area, then volunteering on the bucket brigade, rescue workers who sifted through massive amounts of debris, clawing through twisted steel and concrete, searching desperately for survivors.
“We all want to say thank you,” Spaulding said, commenting on the feelings his fellow officers have for the nation’s support. “We don’t know how we could have done it without you.”
Staff writers Chris Fincher, Charles C. Wilson III, Rebecca Grilliot and Sarah Tebo contributed to this report