Staff Photo: John Bohn An honor guard comprised of local first responders takes part in a memorial ceremony to honor the victims of the 911 terrorist attacks held at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Gwinnett Justice & Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Tuesday. Representatives of local first responders, the military and the general public were present.
Gwinnett remembers victims of 9/11
Gwinnett County held a ceremony on Sept. 11, 2012 to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Judy was teaching math class. Edwin was working in his office. And Bobby was on his way to the airport.
At the time, they didn't realize it, but where they were, who they talked to, how they felt, would all be stamped into their memories with clarity on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Serving in various capacities, all three were in attendance Tuesday morning at the Fallen Heroes Memorial beside the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center for an event marking the infamous date 11 years later.
Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson came out to show support for "those who keep our country free."
"I think it's important that we move forward, but we never forget," Johnson said.
Snellville City Councilman Bobby Howard said he attended Tuesday's gathering, because he is grateful.
"Just the ability to be standing right here where we are today, that says it all," Howard said. "Men and women here and abroad gave the ultimate sacrifice."
Cpl. Edwin Ritter was at the event as a member of the honor guard.
"We do this for a reason, and we use the honor guard to honor those who have died in the line of duty," Ritter said.
At other memorial events around the county, residents and officials alike, paid their respects.
In Lilburn, the city unveiled steel from an actual I-Beam support of the World Trade Center. "We were fortunate enough to be a recipient," said events coordinator Debbie Adam. "We also had a very moving service, a good turnout and a lot of fire and police officials there. Everyone came out to help, and it was a touching ceremony."
Residents Mark and Tina Pruitt and their daughters, Alexis and Brooke, attended Tuesday's event in Lawrenceville out of reverence for the lives lost.
"I'm real proud to be a part of this, and the remembrance of it, and to be able to honor everyone that went forward and gave it all," said Mark Pruitt. "I can remember when it happened. I was at our store in Hoschton, and because nobody really knew what was going on, we went into lockdown mode. I remember thinking, 'We're under attack, everywhere. This is an attack on the American people.'"
Added Pruitt: "I think there's a lot of people older than us that have a lot of memories of events that happened. That's going to be the one thing that we remember. That date, crystal clear in our memories."
Johnson said she'll certainly never forget.
As she was wrapping up a math lesson at Central Gwinnett High School, someone informed her what had happened. She turned on the television for her students and everyone watched in silence.
Ritter said he was working in his office, when he got a phone call.
"They let me know that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center," Ritter said. "I got on the computer, but the Internet wasn't working, because apparently everyone else was trying to figure out what was happening as well. We all turned on the radio and started listening. I stayed up all night watching the news. It was a very sad day, and I'll never forget it."
Howard has similar sentiments.
"I had a meeting at the airport, and when I got inside the building, it was completely silent and hardly anybody was moving," Howard said. I have never in my life experienced an airport being completely silent. It was absolutely indescribable."
Added Howard: "An eerie silence told me something bad had happened. It was almost as if time had stopped ... although we don't cherish the day that we remember these types of things, we remember them because of the sacrifice."