Ceremony canceled

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp joins local dignitaries as they watch Glynn County firefighters raise the American flag to half mast during last year’s 9/11 Honor and Remembrance ceremony at the Ballard fire station. The event has been canceled this year in accordance with measures recommended by health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Glynn County’s annual ceremony honoring first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, New York City terrorist attacks has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It would be the first year we haven’t done anything,” said Glynn County Commission Chairman Mike Browning. “With COVID, it was decided it would be best not to do anything this year.”

It wasn’t an easy call to make for the Woodmen lodge, either. The Brunswick chapter of the Nebraska-based non-profit philanthropy and community outreach organization has organized the event with the county since 2002.

“That just makes me sick, but we could not do it,” said Ruby Robinson, president of the local Woodmen of the World lodge.

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger planes, flying them into the Pentagon and the two tallest towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Passengers on the fourth plane wrested control from the hijackers, crashing it in Pennsylvania before it could reach its destination.

The attack took 2,977 lives, including hundreds of first responders attempting to save others.

It wasn’t unusual for the annual remembrance ceremony to attract hundreds of people, Robinson said. In 2019, more than 300 people, including Gov. Brian Kemp, turned out to the event at Glynn County Fire Department Station No. 1 on Community Road.

It’s far from the only impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the country. Patriotic celebrations and memorial gatherings have been canceled across the U.S. in an attempt to slow the spread of the severe and highly contagious flu-like respiratory disease.

As of Thursday, 84 Glynn County residents died with the disease, along with seven in Camden County and seven in McIntosh County. Across Georgia, over 6,200 have succumbed to the virus.

New cases of the disease have leveled out over recent weeks, but surges typically lag behind major holidays.

“I’m hopeful that people took appropriate precautions over the Labor Day weekend,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, director of the Coastal Health District. “If we’re going to see a surge in positive cases related to Labor Day activities, it will likely be in the next three to five weeks or so. Hopefully, that won’t happen.”

COVID-19 has forced the local Woodmen lodge to cancel all gatherings through the end of the year, Robinson said.

Browning encouraged all citizens to lower flags to half-mast in memory of first responders who gave their lives saving others following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

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