Cole said she was attending a judge's conference and, like many Americans, was watching television as the World Trade Center burned.
"When the plane hit the second tower, we knew we were under attack," she said.
Cole described that day as "the Sept. 11 that needs no year" and recognized the people who exemplified themselves during the tragedy and those who have done so since.
"This nation is blessed with an abundance of heroes. They teach our children to be brave and principled," she said.
Introducing the guest speaker, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, attorney and former School Board member W. C. Gentry said Sept. 11 is a "bittersweet day" to remember the destruction and an attack on the institutions of democracy. He said the day also honors a nation that did not falter and the legal profession is one of the leaders.
"Freedom is not free. We, as a profession, are the ones that give substance to the Constitution. Words are empty unless they can be given life by a free and independent Bar and a free and independent judiciary. To implement the law, preserve the law and protect the law, we need an educated public," Gentry said.
Vitti said as superintendent, he supports civics education in Duval County public schools as a way to preserve society.
Vitti said today's students are voters of the future.
He said there is more to rating the quality of education than focusing on graduation rate.
"Wanting students to graduate from high school is a low expectation. I want their diploma to mean something. I want to be able to say students can critically think. I want them to take information, synthesize it and make sense of it. They need to be able to present an argument and problem solve. Civics is the perfect subject for that to happen," he said.
While much of education evaluation has become focused on a letter grade, Vitti said he never discusses the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test with teachers or administrators.
"Standardized tests identify some degree of information. It is more important to be able to take information and present a compelling argument or idea," he said. "We have to shift away from tests and toward common sense and reason."
The Jacksonville Bar Association's next meeting is Nov. 1.
Opening the first assembly of The Jacksonville Bar Association's 2013-14 year, Circuit Judge Karen Cole asked members if they remembered where they were the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.