By Amanda Saunders, BCN intern.
Editor’s note: Bryan County News intern Amanda Saunders is a high school senior and was not born when 9/11 happened.
How old were you? Where were you? What were you doing? These are all questions those who lived through 9/11 can instantaneously answer. But what about the generation born after the attack? How do they know what happened? Richmond Hill Fire Chief Brendon Greene and City Clerk Dawnne Greene have three children born after the attack.
While in college, Dawnne worked for a PR agency, and one of her former co-workers, Bill Weems, was a passenger on one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers.
“I still think of him every year on that day, and I’ve told our children about Bill. I still remember how kind he was to me over 29 years later. He was flying to LA for work and decided to leave a day earlier than he needed to visit family there.”
The Greenes honor the fallen and those that sacrificed themselves for others. “We talk about the courage displayed that day – from the 343 firefighters running into danger to the passengers trying to stop the hijackers on the plane that went down in a Pennsylvania field,” she said. “We talk about our military and the great sacrifices they have made in the war against terrorism. Lastly, we talk about the incredible unity of Americans in the days that followed, bonded by grief and a common enemy.
“It is important to me that our children learn about the need to stay vigilant in protecting our country from foreign and domestic attacks,” Brendon said.
Walk to Remember
Every year on 9/11, on Captain Matthew Freeman Drive in front of the courthouse, a walk honoring the fallen occurs, with each person carrying a sign with a victim’s name.
Unfortunately, because of COVID, the walk is not happening this year, according to Bryan County Emergency Services Director Freddy Howell.
Howell said he wants his first responders to be able to commemorate the 20th anniversary in their own way. He was an assistant fire chief and training officer in Waycross on 9/11.
“I was in a burn building we used to train in downtown, on the third floor stairwell of this five story building doing hose evaluations, and the chief called me and said ‘y’all need to wrap it up and get back to the station, a plane’s jut hit the World Trade Center,’” Howell recalled.
The following April, Howell was at a national firefighter conference in Indianapolis when he got a surreal reminder of the toll 9/11 attacks.
“I was standing in line to get something to eat with a bunch of firefighters from New York City, and one of them gets a phone call,” Howell said. “He came back and said, ‘We’ve got to go home. They just found one of our guys from 9/11 in the wreckage. It sent cold chills through me. It still does, thinking about it.”