Nevada observes 9/11 anniversary with honor, hope
September 11, 2004
About 300 Nevadans waving American flags, some dressed in the black of mourning, others in jovial red-white-and-blue stripes, assembled Saturday on the lawn of the Capitol in remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks and to pay honor to those who helped the city survive the devastating Waterfall fire.
The solemn ceremony opened with the McQueen High School marching band performing a medley of patriotic tunes full of brute, battle-ready snare and the explosion of cymbals crashing. Members of Nevada’s elite white-gloved Honor Guard presented the colors.
Maj. Gen. Giles Vanderhoof, a Sparks High School graduate and newly appointed Homeland Security Director for Nevada, spoke about the lingering effects of the terrorist attacks.
“The horror of these attacks are still imprinted upon our minds and will remain there for the rest of our lives,” he said. “We realized that a terrible new threat was upon us, and the oceans that separated us from other continents no longer separated us from danger. We were now in a war unlike any other.”
But he noted, “The attacks resulted in consequences the terrorists never expected. America came together in a spirit of patriotism and commitment rarely seen.”
“Is Nevada safe?” he asked. “Much safer than it was in 2001,” he said. Though he admitted that future attacks on the United States are likely, preparations and exercises are in the works, and agencies are working together and coordinating intelligence much better now than before Sept. 11.
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No better proof of this was in the area’s response to the Waterfall fire.
Gov. Kenny Guinn, taking the microphone in his right hand and speaking “from his heart” rather than from a prepared speech, agreed.
He said Sept. 11 “will be a day etched in our history books like Pearl Harbor,” and one of the keys to beating future attacks of terror is “for state and federal agencies to be in direct communication with each other,” the way Carson City and neighboring communities were during the Waterfall fire as the out-of-control blaze threatened the city.
Guinn then commented about the 15 governors, including himself, who had received potentially dangerous letters lined with matches and rigged to ignite upon opening in a rash of recent mailings.
He said while the letters were “meant to bring about fear and intimidation,” none of the governors were actually exposed to any harm because of alert systems and communications between state and local intelligence agencies now in place. That is more proof, he said, that things are working.
Guinn, who recently had lunch with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and admitted to reading the mayor’s book, “Leadership,” said “America and the world owe three people a debt of gratitude – Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and President George W. Bush.”
“They stood fast and showed no fear,” said Guinn. “One whimper, and it would’ve been the wrong message to the world.”
He said the spirit of Sept. 11 brought people together. He also thanked the Department of Public Safety, firefighters from all over the area and all the volunteers who helped out during the Waterfall fire.
“We had more volunteers than we needed,” he said.
The service, which lasted about an hour, included a video presentation, “Nevada: Proud. Prepared. Protected.” The film highlighted the men and women who protect Nevada during wildfires and in times of crisis.
Contact Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.