Ceremonies honor victims of 9/11

by Wes Mayer


Brian Hodges (right) and Mark Cooper (left) with the Newnan Police Department get ready to raise the Georgia flag. 

Newnan and Coweta County honored the victims of 9/11 as well as the men and women serving our country at ceremonies on the Court Square early Wednesday.

The memorial service began at 9 a.m. in downtown Newnan. A crowd of Coweta County residents, public safety personnel and veterans crowded near the west steps of the historic courthouse as Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager gave his opening remarks to begin the tribute. Reverend Paul Dennis followed with an invocation, the color guard presented the flags, Brian McKenzie with the Coweta County Fire Department sang the National Anthem, and the crowd joined together to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Newnan Mayor Keith Brady and Coweta County Commission Chairman Bob Blackburn spoke about Sept. 11 now being known as Patriot Day, a day on which America recognizes its men and women in the service of our country, at home and overseas. Brady and Blackburn both said that Sept. 11 should never be known as just another day.

The city of Newnan’s police and fire departments held this year’s tribute in conjunction with Coweta County Sheriff and Fire, Coweta County EMS and the United States Military, and an honor guard was composed of representatives from all Coweta public safety departments under acting commander Cpl. Floyd Boswell with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. The honor guard members were Phillip Sims with VITALCare EMS, Danny Lane with American Medical Response Coweta County, Chad Wood and Doug Jones with the NPD, Cornell Rollins with the NFD, Chris Millen with the CCSO, Devon Shaner with the CCFD and Josh Rickmond with 911.

There were three color guards presenting each flag — the American flag, the state of Georgia flag, and a star flag honoring all those serving our country and lost in the fight against terrorism. Forming the color guards were Ron Hamilton, Brian Minix, Dan Hyatt and Chris Lowe with the CCFD; Mark Cooper, Marcos Gonzalez, Brian Hodges and Denver Atwood with the NPD; and Shane Grizzard with the NFD.

This year, Newnan High School history students presented five memorial wreaths, and Riggs explained how they represented the 2,977 people who lost their lives on 9/11. As each wreath was presented, Thomas Ramey with the NFD rang a bell to commemorate the fallen. The first wreath was a memorial to the civilians, the second for the members of the New York Fire Department, the third for the law enforcement officers who fought to restore order, the fourth for the emergency medical service personnel, and the fifth to represent the men and women who have gone to serve the military and fight terrorism since 2001.

“On that day, al-Qaeda was celebrating a victory,” Riggs said. “Today, they are no longer rejoicing.”

At the conclusion of the presentation of the wreaths, Renee Windom sang God Bless America, and the flags were dropped to half staff.

The ceremony closed with a rifle salute from Josh Jordan, Brandon Harris, Jonathan Staples, Nathan Mullinex and Mike St. John with the sheriff’s office. Brett Griffies with the CCFD played taps on his trumpet from the courthouse balcony and a closing prayer was given by Reverend Frank Power.

The ceremony ended with closing remarks from Newnan Police Chief Douglas L. “Buster” Meadows. Meadows shared his connection to the events of that day, and he spoke on some of America’s first great patriots, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the time when freedom was not truly free.

“We must never forget the price we pay for freedom,” Meadows said. “Each day that price goes up.”

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