At Sunday morning's 9/11 remembrance, Newton County leaders expressed sadness and were solemn, but they also asked residents to not lose hope in their fellow man and what can be accomplished when working together.
Chairman Kathy Morgan spoke of the shock and intense fear that gripped nation, but she noted that the country joined together instead of drifting apart because of fear. She asked residents of all backgrounds and nationalities to join together.
"It is my goal that we embrace these diversities, learn from each culture and become aware of our differences, but become aware of the common goals that united us," Morgan said. "And that we educate ourselves to help understand our philosophies and religions and bond together as Newton Countians, Georgians and Americans."
Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan yet again thanked the efforts of public safety officials and volunteers from around the county who helped Newborn recover from an April tornado.
"Volunteers came form all over. Its proof of what America is and can be. Everyone working together toward a common goal. No one asked which party you belong to. No one checked your color. No one asked, ‘What is in it for me?' Everyone worked together," Sheridan said. "We poured the last concrete 10 days ago, (repairs were completed in four months, and we were told it would take a year and a half. This is the America I fought for, I know and I love."
Speaker Sean McDowell, a Christian author and professor, addressed the spiritual questions raised by 9/11, and while he didn't know why God allowed the attacks to happen, he assured the crowd that God was suffering along with those in pain.
McDowell said events like 9/11 are wakeup calls that cause people to ask the big questions in life. People need to take advantage of that to truly evaluate their lives and not immediately fall into old patterns.
"The greatest wakeup call we've had in this generation caused people to ask the questions: ‘Why would this happen?' ‘What is my life about?' ‘What's the purpose?' Then within months people were right back to where they were before," McDowell told the crowd.
While people can't know why God allowed 9/11 to happen, McDowell said they can know that he is good, in control and can transform all things for good.
"(Those are the) moments where we tune into the big questions of life. Let us remember the heroes and victims of 9/11. But let us also take a minute and reflect on our own hearts and ask ourselves, ‘Have we dealt with the evil we've contributed ourselves?'" McDowell said.
"One of the most humbling days of my life is when I stopped and I realized ‘Oh my goodness, it's not just the evil out there, but I have been the cause of pain and suffering in other people's' lives as well. And it was on that day God broke me. Have you allowed God to break you?"
The ceremony also included a bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace" by Russell Smith with the Atlanta Bagpipe Band, while the combined band of the three county high schools played "God Bless America" and "God Bless the U.S.A."
Around the county, several groups are paying homage to the victims of 9/11. The police and fire departments in Porterdale are paying respects to those who lost their lives in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 by placing crosses in front of their buildings.
The Porterdale Police Department's 72 white crosses, each adorned with a dark blue ribbon, represent the 72 law enforcement members killed on 9/11. The fire department's 343 white crosses are for those firefighters lost. The wood used to make the crosses was donated by Home Depot in Covington and the PPD's Explorers helped build the crosses.
Students at Alcovy High School held a candlelight vigil Friday as their flag was lowered to half-mast, and other schools will be holding remembrance ceremonies on Monday.