Fort Gordon came to a halt Friday as troops emerged silently from their workplaces for an early observance of the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The busy Friday morning rush hour stopped and the post's gates were closed as the ceremony outside Signal Towers began at 8:35 a.m.
Ten men -- dressed in police, fire, Army and other uniforms -- stood in front of a flagpole when the first of the sirens marking the attacks sounded at 8:46 a.m. -- the minute that American Airlines flight 11 crashed in the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Hundreds of soldiers in their fatigues watched the flag from formation. As they stood in silence, a soft breeze whipped at the Stars and Stripes, piercing the quiet with the steady, strong beating sound.
Two minutes later, a second alarm rang out. The men lowered the flag, and taps was played by Sgt. Jeremy Morrison, of the 434th U.S. Army Signal Corps Band.
Elsewhere across the Augusta area, others held similar observances.
Nearly 150 students, faculty members and staffers gathered on the lawn by Augusta State University's campus flagpole.
The 30-minute ceremony presented by ASU's ROTC included the national anthem by the campus band, the flag being lowered to half-staff and a moment of silence to remember 9-11 victims, accompanied by a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
Sgt. Brandon Bozant, a student at ASU, spoke of the importance of tolerance for Muslims, and its importance to the success of U.S. military efforts.
He referred to protests against the building of mosques and recent threats to burn the Quran.
"These attitudes can be tempered so we can have success with our Afghan partners," Bozant said.
The event concluded with a contracting ceremony for 14 local cadets who took an oath to join up as commissioned officers on completion of their college studies.
Military veterans, and soldiers who have lost their lives in war, were recognized for their service.
University of South Carolina Aiken sociology senior James Eastman found it hard to believe it has been almost 10 years since the attacks.
"It feels like it just happened," he said.
Almost a decade ago, Eastman was in his ninth-grade journalism class when the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center.
When word spread through the halls of the attacks, his teacher flicked on the TV, turned to her students and said, "This is history in the making. Y'all are going to watch it."
Nine years later, Eastman and the student body at USC Aiken remembered the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks Friday with a musical tribute and a poster-signing in the Student Activities Center.
The Pacer Pulse Athletic Band played a collection of patriotic songs. Eastman's group, Student Involvement, put out posters for students to write where they were at 8:46 a.m. nine years ago and what they have learned from the attacks. Most were in their middle school classrooms. Some said they were walking the hallways or sitting in cafeterias.
What they have learned?
One student wrote that the attacks taught people how to not take things for granted. Another said it showed how the course of history can change in just seconds. Student Involvement members also passed out bracelets engraved with words such as "freedom" and "hope."
For sociology junior Roberto Aragon, the memories of Sept. 11 do not just come back once a year.
A student in New York City at the time of the attacks, Aragon often thinks about a little girl who sat three rows behind him in class. After her parents died in the attacks, Aragon never saw her come back to school again.
"I get teary-eyed whenever I talk about it," he said. "It's a moment that really changed the world. It changes you."
Staff Writers LaTina Emerson and Tracey McManus contributed to this article.