9/11 Anniversary Harford County

Staff at Quinn's Hair Styling decorated the inside of the Edgewood salon to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead / September 8, 2011)

For those in Harford County who did not lose loved ones or were not otherwise immediately affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their immediate aftermath, the effect of 9/11 over the years may be hard to quantify.

Many Harford residents do in fact fall into the category as being immediately affected, however.

There were several local deaths from the attacks and in the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Countless others have had their lives turned upside down from military deployments to a shifting, security based defense community that has moved into the county.


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For others in Harford, the impact of 9/11 a decade later may be more of a collection of small differences. A security change here. An increased worry there. A greater sense of urgency to carry a cell phone. Longer waits at the airport.

But whether the impacts have been big or small, those who live and work in Harford County say the terror attacks did change the fabric of life here, as they did throughout the nation.

The most visible change everywhere has been security, as Bob Thomas, spokesman for Harford County government, pointed out.

Terrorism worries meant the advent of concepts like "homeland security," while the county's relationship with its main military neighbor, Aberdeen Proving Ground, has changed profoundly, Thomas said.

"Certainly security has become foremost on everybody's minds, not only [for] law enforcement but government employees. There is much more interest in intelligence, and gathering of intelligence on those who wish to do government harm," he said.

Before 9/11, Thomas said, "it was nothing to carry a penknife into the courthouse. Nobody thought about that as an issue in the past. Today, it's a security issue. Buildings now, both business and government, have gone more and more to video cameras to track the safety of their occupants."

Changes at APG

The relationship between Aberdeen Proving Ground and the county is different now, and much of that is because the 2005 base realignment cycle, or BRAC, which has been largely driven by the heightened national security concerns following 9/11, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed 9/11.

BRAC, which is due to be completed next month, has brought in thousands of new residents, billions of dollars to the local economy and revamped facilities on the proving ground, as APG has changed from a major weapons testing installation to one that develops sophisticated, computer based warfare and national defense systems.

"For years, it was that military partner next door. Now, it's a major defense facility," Thomas said.

"You used to be able to go on the Aberdeen Proving Ground, and go and visit the museum. I took my son for scouting visits," he said. "Security measures have been greatly enhanced. Aberdeen Proving Ground is a very tight, secure area. That changed a way of life in Harford County."

New arrivals post-9/11

Some major defense contractors who have moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground in the whole post-9/11 BRAC realignment process, declined to discuss how they have been affected by 9/11.

A media spokeswoman at L-3 Communications said the company is not responding to interviews on the topic.

Others chose their own ways of addressing it.

CACI, which is at The GATE development on APG, published a special message from executive chairman Jack London and president and CEO Paul Cofoni, who noted the impact of the event on their employees.