Like most Americans on September 11, 2001, Rockdale County Fire Department Lt. J. D. Carter watched in horror as the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed, Flight 93 went down in a Pennsylvania field and the Pentagon came under attack.
The loss of civilian lives, including firefighters, overwhelmed him.
"It just took a toll," said Carter.
He and other local firefighters organized a boot drive for the women and children left behind by the firefighters who perished in New York. Carter also spoke at churches near the Washington, D.C. area about how children can bring healing in such a time of incredible grief.
Ten years later, Carter continues to dedicate his time to the events of Sept. 11. Instrumental in organizing the first-year and fifth-year Sept. 11 anniversary remembrance services in Rockdale, Carter is once again involved, this time in the 10th anniversary Sept. 11 memorial service.
Carter said he thinks it's important to remember those who gave their lives in the line of duty and honor those who continue to fight wars against terrorism in the Middle East.
"It's not to bring back anger and pain, but it's to show the world that we're going to keep going, and to let those who lost loved ones know that we are going to remember their loved ones," he said.
Both Rockdale and Newton will hold special Sept. 11 memorial services in honor of the roughly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the attacks, and those military who continue to sacrifice for their country.
Conyers First United Methodist Church and the Rockdale County Fire Department have teamed up for a 9/11 Worship Service of Remembrance to be held at the church, 921 N. Main St. in Conyers, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.
The event will include the presentation of colors by the Rockdale County Fire Department; tolling of bells at the times the twin towers collapsed; messages from Lt. Carter and Conyers FUMC Pastor Dr. John Beyers; bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace"; scripture readings and patriotic music.
The public, along with all first responders and city and county officials, are invited to attend. Overflow seating will be available in the student center where the service will be broadcast over live video stream.
In Newton County, the 9/11 Memorial Service will take place on the Square in Covington on Sept. 11 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. The City of Covington Police and the Newton County Fire Department will perform the presentation of colors; Pastor Matt Murphy of Grace United Methodist Church will provide the invocation; city and county officials will speak; and patriotic music will be performed by the combined high school band.
In addition, emergency vehicles, with emergency lights activated, will line the Square and the courthouse bell will be rung at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center.
Other local events on Sept. 11 include a choir concert, dubbed "Sweet Land of Liberty," presented at the First Baptist Church of Covington, 1139 Usher St. in Covington, at 4 and 6 p.m., and a worship concert to celebrate World Peace Day at 5 p.m. at Union United Methodist Church, 4600 Hwy. 138 in Stockbridge.
"America is about moving forward," said Carter. "And I'm proud to be an American."