Area ceremonies remember the victims of 9/11

Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 12:26 PM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 1:29 AM
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Others remember where they were when planes struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but Donna LeCount remembers faces – such as her brother’s.

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(Emily Rose Bennett/Staff)  Officers with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office attend a September 11th remembrance ceremony at the Commons in downtown Augusta on Wednesday morning.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
(Emily Rose Bennett/Staff) Officers with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office attend a September 11th remembrance ceremony at the Commons in downtown Augusta on Wednesday morning.

It’s one reason LeCount makes an effort to attend Augusta’s commemoration ceremony almost every year. As a New York native, she and her family lost friends who worked near ground zero.

LeCount’s brother, Jimmy Wright, was a steel worker in New York City at the time and was one of many called to help in the aftermath.

“All steel workers were called in,” she said. “He said the horror was unbelievable.”

Wright died in 2005 from what she says were 911-related health issues.

LeCount was one of a number of residents, public officials, police officers and firefighters who gathered for the 12th anniversary of the attacks Wednesday morning at Augusta Common, which was surrounded by flags honoring public safety members who have lost their lives in service since Sept. 11, 2001.

In Columbia County, public officials, emergency responders and residents crowded under blue skies at Evans Towne Center Park for a reflection ceremony in tribute to those killed in the attacks.

Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., the commander of Fort Gordon’s 7th Signal Command, asked the crowd to remember those lost on that day and in the resulting conflicts and to honor emergency and military personnel for their sacrifices.

“It was a day of heroism by ordinary Americans doing what Americans do in tragic and extraordinary times, rising to the challenge helping others and in short, simply being American,” Morrison said.

Dr. Wayne Goodwin, who worked in a protective service detail at the Pentagon in 2001, told the gathering at Augusta Common that he barely escaped tragedy that morning.

On most mornings, Goodwin would have been in the Redskins Lounge, situated within the crash site, eating breakfast, but that day he heard about the attacks and left the area to call his daughter.

“Even though we lost people – and we’re still missing them – God was watching out for us that day,” Goodwin said.

The area had just been renovated, and not everyone had returned to their offices yet.

During Wednesday’s ceremony, a two-minute silence was observed for the collapse of each tower. Just seconds before the second moment of silence, several firefighters had to leave in two ladder trucks to attend to a local emergency.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said it illustrated perfectly the risk first responders face daily.

“To see our firefighters spring to action at that moment made the hair on the back of my neck (stand up),” he said.

Despite the crowd that gathered, LeCount said she wonders whether people overall are starting to forget. She has noticed that the abundant American flags that appeared on vehicles and homes in the aftermath have disappeared.

“If you knew how many flags I’ve bought at yard sales,” she said.

Two American flags still fly from her pickup, but she says the only flags she sees flying now are for sports teams.

“We believe the people of our nation have forgotten,” LeCount said. “We don’t want people to forget.”

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