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American Legion remembers 9/11 terrorist attacks

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

As the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is commemorated nationwide today, there will be local memorial services, and recognition ceremonies, including charity events, to honor military personnel, police officers and firefighters.

The American Legion Clayton County Post 258 will host one ceremony tonight at 6 p.m., featuring prayer, and a speech by two of the post's chaplains, as well as recognition of local public safety officers, and members of the military. It will be held at the post, which is located at 1450 American Legion Way, in Jonesboro.

"We're doing this to support our firefighters and police officers for the work they do," said John Harper, commander of the post. "Imagine if a plane were hijacked and crashed on [U.S. Highway] 19/41. There'd be some lives lost, and it would be up to our police officers and firefighters to respond to it."

The 9/11 attacks involved four hijacked airplanes, including two which were flown into, and led to collapse of, the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City. A third plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth crashed in a field, in Shanksville, Pa. Nearly 2,800 people died in the attacks, according to recent reports from the Associated Press.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that he will extend the national emergency that has been in place since the 9/11 for another year, because of "the continuing, and immediate, threat of further attacks on the United States."

Don Rusk, one of the chaplains for American Legion 258, said 9/11 was an event that is still having ripple effects for the country, most notably because of the deployment of military servicemen, and women, in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Rusk is scheduled to speak tonight about the emotional after-effects of 9/11.

"We're under an element of fear, and we really have an uncertain feeling about what the future will bring," he said. "It's funny, because we look at Pearl Harbor and how we still remember it. Do we think of 9/11 the same way? I know it's a different time, but ultimately, if we go back to our roots, and to our faith, we'll see there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

After the ceremony, there will be a steak dinner for $9 per person, but uniformed personnel, such as police officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) military servicemen, and women, will only have to pay $5. Proceeds from the dinner will be donated to veterans-assistance programs at veteran's hospitals, Harper said.

The 9/11 anniversary also will be commemorated locally with a charity basketball "Heroes Game," featuring Clayton County police officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters, and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), today at 3:15 p.m., at Morrow High School, which is located at 2299 Old Rex Morrow Road, in Morrow.

On the state level, Gov. Sonny Perdue issued an executive order for all state offices to fly their flags at half staff until sundown today. "The eighth anniversary of the attacks against America reminds us of a time when our nation came together in the face of tragedy," Perdue said, in a written statement. "An attack meant to weaken us only served to make us stronger. The courage shown by Americans, from ground zero to every corner of our country, continues to inspire us as we vow to never forget those that lost their lives on that day."