Updated 9:35 a.m., Sept. 11, 2011
Suwanee Deputy Police Chief Janet Moon spoke through tears. Barely.
Moon, speaking on behalf of two retired New York Police Department officers in attendance Saturday, told how one said that "the sights and sounds (of Ground Zero) can never be erased."
Also choking up was Duluth resident Jack Curtin, whose brother Michael, a New York police officer, died in the terrorist attacks that hit New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
"We're isolated from it now," Curtin told an audience of citizens, city officials and public safety officials, "but what we don't realize is that 3,000 people went to work that day and didn't make it home."
Emotional moments were plentiful in front of City Hall as Suwanee held its 9/11 commemoration and formally unveiled its 1,600 pound artifact from the World Trade Center towers, named Remembrance.
Suwanee resident Jim Lenahan was in New York on business when the attacks hit.
"My wife and I lost 30 of our friends," said Lenahan, a New York native. "It's been a haunting 10 years. ... They (terrorists) can score, but they can't win."
The hour-long ceremony concluded when Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones, a special police color guard and a Gwinnett Fire honor guard lifted the cover from the steel artifact, which arrived from New York in July and had been stored at the public works headquarters. It will be displayed in front of City Hall until a permanent site is determined.
Lenahan helped to set up a triage unit at a school near Ground Zero. He noted that most of the people who needed help were police, fire and emergency medical personnel -- "a lot of eye washes."
"It was a surreal environment," Lenahan continued. "There were blackout conditions downtown ... dust was 8-12 inches thick."
Jones noted that over 400 first responders -- police, fire and emergency medical technicians -- died in the 9/11 attacks; he also said that each year, 110 firefighters and 160 police officers die in the line of duty. "It continues to be a thin line of defense."
The chief, whose department long has emphasized citizen involvement, also said, "with all the evil that day, I saw unity in this community. People approached us at events and restaurants and said, 'Thank you.' "
Sounds Of Suwanee from Suwanee Academy of the Arts also sang during the event. Mayor Dave Williams was among the speakers. The Gwinnett Fire Department had a strong presence, and Deputy Fire Chief Greg Schaffer was among the speakers. Also speaking was FBI Agent Alex Hill, to describe the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11.
Curtin, the Duluth resident who spoke, said that New York "was a special place for me ... to visit" because of his brother's memory. "Now I can come here and be close to him."
To view Huffington Post 9/11 gallery: http://huff.to/riv8zM
To view Suwanee Patch 9/11 archive: