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How Atlanta remembered 9-11 on the 15th anniversary

Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church hosted a Liturgy of remembrance on Sunday. Photo: Andre McIntosh

Katherine McGarry-Noack was in Windows on the World, at the very top of one of the World Trade Center towers, when terrorists struck 15 years ago. With thick smoke billowing all around her, she called her husband, who worked about 70 levels below on the 35th floor.

Family photo

“They were trapped,” said her sister, Marianne Burke. “She feared they would not be able to escape. She asked Brad to tell us that she loved us. Brad did escape and was outside when the towers fell.”

Katherine’s remains were never recovered. She was 30.

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Burke shared the painful memory at a sunrise service at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, one of many commemorative events held across metro Atlanta on Sunday.

“Although it’s been 15 years, sometimes it feels like yesterday,” Burke said. “The horror of that day is difficult to remember, but it also reminds me of the love and support that we have received from family, friends and the Marietta community over the past 15 years. This fields of flags is a wonderful tribute to each and every victim that died that day and also those that continue to defend this great nation and our freedom.”

Sunday’s event included remarks from former Gov. Roy Barnes, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, who all live in Cobb County.

MORE: Watch "The Voice" alum Zach Seabaugh perform at 9-11 service 

Nearly 3,000 flags have been placed at Kennesaw Mountain. Photo: Jennifer Brett

“Fifteen years ago today, on a morning just like today, 19 radical Islamic terrorists hijacked four American domestic airliners and attacked New York City and Washington, D.C., in what I’ve called the first battle in the war between good and evil,” Isakson said. Referencing more recent terrorist attacks, including the mass shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, California, Fort Hood,Texas, and in Belgium and France, he said, “We are in a full-scale war that we must win.”

Barnes and Barr spoke of American resolve in times of adversity.

Photo: Jennifer Brett

“The American people are tough and determined that we do not yield to cowards who seek to do us harm,” Barnes said.

The event featured a performance by “The Voice” alum Zach Seabaugh, whose father, Devan Seabaugh, is a Kiwanis member. A military flyover roared across the sky as the sun rose and the event concluded with a 21-gun salute, a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” and the reading of all of the victims of Sept. 11.

Elsewhere, a group of Fayetteville firefighters climbed Stone Mountain wearing all their gear, in honor of their first responder brethren who ran into harm’s way in New York. The Gwinnett County fire department organized a remembrance ceremony at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the county courthouse complex while in Decatur, the Ebster Recreation Center was chosen as the site of an interfaith service themed “Remember, Reconcile and Relate.”

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Sandy Springs partnered with the city’s police and fire departments for a Liturgy of Remembrance service.

“I know where I was 15 years ago when the towers fell and the gut-wrenching feeling that I had when 343 brothers and sisters lost their lives that day,” Sandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders said, referring to the New York Fire Department’s casualties on Sept. 11.

Firefighters hoist a flag at the Holy Innocents' service. Photo: Andre McIntosh

The Rev. Michael Sullivan, who is both Holy Innocents’ rector and the Sandy Springs Fire Department’s chaplain, also noted the 60 fallen police officers and the eight medics who died along with so many civilians.

“How do we honor them? I’m hopeful that today has been a day where we claim our goodness, where we walk together as one,” Sullivan said. “We are here to proclaim that while we look back to 9-11 we also look forward. We look forward in giving thanks to those who protect us and help us. We believe we are called to be people of goodness not only in this nation but throughout the world.”

About the Author

Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for

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