Lee County plans 9/11 remembrance

LEESBURG, Ga. — When Lee County Commissioners met in Smithville last year for the dedication of a new fire station, the event sparked something in Rick Muggridge.

That spark grew into a communitywide event that is planned for Sunday to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Since the dedication of that fire station in Smithville (on Oct. 22, 2010), I’ve thought a lot about the effort first responders put forth to keep us safe,” Muggridge, an insurance broker, said. “It’s awesome to see people so invested in the community they put themselves through the rigors it takes to become a fireman, EMT or law enforcement officer, especially if you go back to when people did it on a voluntary basis.

“I’m amazed by history, and when you look at Sept. 11, that is truly one of the flagpoles of America’s history. I thought it was important to remember the events of that day and why they happened.”

So Muggridge called on pastors of churches in the community, and together they planned the “9/11: Ten Years After” community remembrance and prayer service, which will be conducted at the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building Sunday starting at 8:46 a.m.

“I didn’t think this needed to be a day of political speeches and recognition of dignitaries; it needed to be a time of reflection and prayer,” Muggridge said. “I wanted as many different voices from the community as possible involved, so we talked with the pastors of churches from as many different denominations as possible.”

The “Ten Years After” remembrance will start at 8:46 a.m. with a ringing of the bells for Flight 11, which struck the north tower of New York’s Twin Towers. Following musical selections, bells will toll at 9:03 a.m. in honor of Flight 175, which struck the south tower.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will present the colors to accompany the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” at 9:04 a.m., and Lee County Commission Chairman Ed Duffy will offer brief remarks at 9:09 a.m. Duffy’s remarks will be followed immediately by a prayer for those who died and others impacted by the events of 9/11.

At 9:15 a.m., a trumpeter will play “Taps,” followed by a prayer for America. At 9:23 a.m., Wilson Faircloth will lead the assemblage in the singing of “God Bless America.” A prayer will then be offered on behalf of local first responders, followed by a song for that group. Bells will toll at 9:37 a.m. for Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon in the nation’s capital.

The gathering will be dismissed after the toll for Flight 77, but bells will also ring at 10:03 a.m. in honor of the heroes of Flight 93, who crashed that plane in a field near Shanksville, Pa., foiling terrorists’ plans to fly the aircraft into the White House.

“The focus of this event will be on our first responders,” Muggridge said. “I’m a man of faith, and I believe these people deserve our prayer. This is a fitting way to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and those who served so honorably on 9/11.”