Memorial honors sacrifices made by Gwinnett's warriors

LAWRENCEVILLE - Towers fell in New York. Planes crashed in Washington and Pennsylvania. Thousands died that fateful fall day.

And in Georgia, millions mourned.

"The courage of America was tested that day and heroes emerged across our land," Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said, as he ordered flags Monday be lowered to half-staff in remembrance. "The heroism shown by thousands of first responders, firefighters, police officers and ordinary citizens continues to inspire this nation as we move forward."

But the sacrifices didn't end on Sept. 11, 2001.

Seven Gwinnettians have given their lives to the global war on terrorism and another man died while training for the fight.

While New Yorkers are still waiting for the Freedom Tower, Gwinnett is paying its own homage to the victims and the heroes who tried to protect the country from future attacks.

Sept. 11 was the impetus for the construction of Gwinnett's Fallen Heroes Memorial, which was in the planning stages for more than a decade before local leaders dedicated money after the attacks.

Since then, the names of soldiers lost in the war on terror have been etched into the black marble.

Sgt. Michael James Stokely, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Houghton Warren, Sgt. 1st Class Lonnie James Parson, Cpl. William A. Long, Sgt. Paul Anthony Saylor, Staff Sgt. Philip Lamar Travis and Marine Lance Cpl. Kun Young Kim died in the Middle East.

Marine Pfc. Brian Marshall Smith died during a training accident at Camp LeJeune, N.C.

"In the global war on terror, the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces continue to serve with distinction in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. Their commitment to duty will never go unrecognized and we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We will continue to keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers," Perdue said. "As a nation we have reaffirmed our commitment to freedom, growing stronger, more determined and more vigilant in defending our homeland, our principles and our way of life."

On the first anniversary of the terror attacks, Tom Wages and his family donated to the city of Snellville a memorial plaque to the victims. The city will hold a rededication ceremony Monday, since the marker recently moved to the new City Hall grounds.