Augusta ceremonies mark 9/11 attacks

Andrew King was taking his son, Forrest, to first grade when terrorists launched the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

On Tuesday, he watched his now 18-year-old son take the enlistment oath to become a soldier.

By his side was Forrest’s mother, Barbara King, who said the conjunction of the oath and an hourlong ceremony on Augusta Common commemorating the anniversary of the attacks “made it that much harder not to cry.”

“This has been his dream his whole life,” Andrew King said. “We’re very proud of him.”

The theme of sacrifice and selfless service ran throughout Augusta’s ceremonies marking the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

At Fort Gordon, home of the Army’s Signal Center of Excellence, traffic came to a standstill and sirens wailed as the flag outside Signal Towers was lowered to half-staff. Cannons boomed at 9:03 a.m., marking the time the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

At the Common, Garrison Commander Col. Robert Barker described how he was pulled away from a ceremony at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., to get plans in place to deploy communications soldiers to Afghanistan.

Within a month of the attacks, U.S. forces were landing at Bagram Airfield, Barker said.

“People said they woke a sleeping giant that day,” Barker said. “It’s amazing what the country has done since that day and what the country will continue to do.”

U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver, speaking for the U.S. Southern District of Georgia, described his office’s role and the role of the U.S. Department of Justice in prosecuting international terrorists and “homegrown radicalized U.S. citizens.” He encouraged all citizens to take stay vigilant.

“Our enemy is severely weakened,” Tarver said. “Our resolve to bring terrorists to justice and to live out the values that have always defined the United States remains undimmed.”

City Administrator Fred Russell closed the ceremony with a challenge to look forward in addition to looking backward.

“Remember the legacy that was left for us,” Russell said.

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