To commemorate the anniversary, the Cartersville Fire Department Honor Guard is coordinating a community program Sunday at 4 p.m.
"I think everyone would agree that 9/11 was one of those events where our country pretty much stopped on the dime and changed direction," said Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter. "It was a life-changing event. In the fire service, we have always said since 9/11, 'Never forget, never forget.' You see it on the side of some fire trucks. It's just kind of like a saying and the reason for the 10th anniversary program is just that. We as a country, we should never forget. We as a community, we should never forget. 9/11, 10 years ago, was a day that our country lost a lot of innocence and we need to remember why we need to remember what happened that day.
"We need to remember the sacrifice of not just the first responders. While that was the greatest loss of fire service life on any one incident in the history of our country, there were, of course, law enforcement, EMS that lost lives that day. But there were many, many, many citizens that lost their lives that day. And there were many citizens that stood up with heroic acts that day. And since then, what has our country done? Well, we have survived the terrorists. They wanted to bring America to its knees and the only thing that I believe that they did was they brought America to stand up and that's why we remember that event."
To be held at Friendship Plaza in downtown Cartersville, Sunday's program will consist of musical selections by the Cass High School band and Cartersville Middle School chorus, a wreath-laying ceremony and tributes by a joint public safety honor guard, including those from Bartow County and Cartersville fire departments.
"I know [it has] been a decade now since the events that took place that day changed our world," said Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap. "All of us as life continues on become, I guess, complacent with things and events just simply become part of the past. But this [program] is part of keeping the memory of those brave men and women who lost their lives that day [alive], to keep that fresh and in the forefront here a decade later. It's just kind of mind-numbing as to what happened that day and this lets us honor those people's memory."
As with most adults, Millsap and Carter remember the moment they heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While Carter -- then the fire chief of Rockmart -- was watching the events unfold at work on T.V., Millsap was attending a mass fatalities training class in Forsyth when news broke about the first two plane crashes.
"The instructor walks in that morning, tells us that there has been a plane that has crashed into the World Trade Center [and another] one has crashed into the Pentagon," said Millsap, who was the deputy director for the Bartow County Emergency Management Agency in 2001. "We thought he was talking hypothetically and it was part of the class. Then within a minute, everyone in the room's pagers and phones start going off. [So we know] that's not part of the class. It was real events that were happening.
"Then we all went down to the lobby of the training center and watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center live as it happened, just standing there dumbstruck. They canceled the class and everyone, of course, rushed back to their home jurisdiction to deal with what was coming next because nobody knew."
From providing monetary donations to public displays of patriotism, the Bartow community's response in the days following 9/11 was amazing to witness, Millsap said.
"As time went on, the public's support, the public's acknowledgment for what we do on a day-to-day basis was just overwhelming," Millsap said. "None of us get into this for the glory or anything like that and unfortunately a lot of times we get uncomfortable when people are telling us, 'Thank you' ... It was just really touching."
For more information about the community program, contact Carter at 770-387-5635.