Terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania during the al-Quaeda terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, people all around America, including in Oconee County, are remembering the civilians and first responders who perished during the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
A large group of students and parents gathered at North Oconee High School late Sunday afternoon to plant American flags in memory of those who died during the attacks.
Student groups who participated included the Young Americans for Freedom, Young Conservatives of America and NOHS’s step dance team.
NOHS senior McCord Camp directed the flag planting effort, assisted by friends like fellow NOHS senior Haseeb Khalid.
Camp explained more about how and why he helped organize the event. He is a member of YAF, and the 9/11 flag planting is an annual event which the organization sponsors.
This is Camp’s third year participating in the flag planting at NOHS and second year of leading it.
“I just thought it is a good thing for the community,” Camp said, “It brings us together … As Americans, we have all been affected by this in some way.”
Khalid said he felt it was his civic duty to remember those who died and support the veterans who fought for our freedom.
NOHS teacher Diana Anderson, who also helped plant flags, expanded on Khalid’s sentiment.
“I feel like we’re in a politically divisive U.S. where we need opportunities to come together,” Anderson said.
“There are just a lot of people like that that are still haunted by it, and it’s one of those things that I hope we never forget, that it does continue to unify us like this every year,” she said.
Oconee resident John Gentry, who is a brigadier general in the Army National Guard, said that in addition to those killed during the terrorist attacks, 43 members of the Georgia National Guard have been killed in operations since that day.
“Since 2001, for our family, it’s been three mobilizations to both Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gentry said.
“I was in Afghanistan in 2009 for the eighth-year anniversary of 9/11, and it was very surreal when we had a memorial service of 9/11 on that particular day.”
Gentry pays his respects to the victims by visiting the North Tower monument in the lobby of the Oconee Veterans Park community center.
Gentry explained that the monument is made up of a section of steel beam, which was conjoined at the bottom to a broken-surface concrete platform shaped like the Pentagon.
“I take the opportunity when I can to come here and reflect on what that steel means and what the Pentagon shape means and touch the steel itself,” Gentry said.
Gentry and multiple staff members at the park described how, every Sept. 11, people will visit the park center lobby throughout the day just to observe and touch the tower monument.
“It’s an important piece of history,” said Gentry.