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Clayton State University honors heroes today

MORROW — A dozen years ago today, 403 New York City firefighters, paramedics, police and Port Authority officers died with thousands of others when terrorist-manned jets slammed into the twin World Trade Center towers.

The dual tragedy represented just half of the devastating attacks on the United States Sept. 11, 2001, but it marked the deadliest day in history for NYC firefighters, with a loss of 343 personnel.

Two other jets, each taken over by terrorists, also crashed. A Boeing 757 slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters, killing 125 in the building and all 64 on board the plane.

The other jet was diverted from its unknown intended target by passengers who learned of the twin towers attack and fought the terrorists. All 45 on board died when United Flight 93 crashed into a western Pennsylvania field.

To express thanks and appreciation to firefighters in Clayton County and its municipalities, Clayton State University will be hosting a patriotic celebration today from 5 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the Student Activities Center green.

There will be free barbecue and live entertainment for personnel and their families, said CSU officials.

This celebration has been designed for the Clayton State community and surrounding neighbors to remember the victims of the 911 attacks, show pride for the unity and the strength of the country, and to pay homage to the county’s own first responders.

It is believed that the first plane crashed into the towers to bring first responders to the site, whereupon the second plane nearly guaranteed certain death to all inside. It is also widely-believed that the date of the attacks was specifically chosen because it represents the three digits Americans call for help in an emergency.

The United States retaliated with Operation Enduring Freedom starting Oct. 7, 2001. The war continues and thousands of troops have died, although the final withdrawal of forces is expected next year.