A wreath, a dozen red roses and the Stars & Stripes all placed in front of a steel beam taken from the World Trade Center illustrate the importance of Patriots Day when almost 3,000 people lost their lives in the worst orchestrated incident of terror on American soil.
For the past 19 years, Sept. 11, 2001, has become symbolic of the nation’s resolve to hold hands with one another to praise first responders and the military and other heroes who sacrificed their own lives to save others. At Carson City’s Mills Park, a smaller number of people attended a short observance this year because of attendance mandates placed on gatherings by the governor.
Pastor Pat Propster of Cavalry Chapel Church and Carson City Ministerial Fellowship began his comments on the day of “Never Forget” when two hijacked planes rammed into the World Trade Center and another crashed into the Pentagon. Passengers wrestled for control of a fourth passenger jet, but it nosedived in a field in western Pennsylvania. Despite all the death and destruction committed on one day, Propster praised the nation’s ability to rise out of the ashes.
Several years ago, Propster and his wife visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum that was built at ground zero in New York City’s lower Manhattan. The memorial fountains and every name of those killed that September morning elicited reverence and reflection from visitors who stop to pay their respects. Propster described the fountains as phenomenal as he and wife listened to the water.
“It was seeing what could be so beautiful coming out of something so horrible,” he said.
Propster paused, saying he remembered seeing a piece of metal from the WTC.
“Our hearts are heavy with memories,” he said. “We were devastated.”
During the morning hours of Sept. 11, Propster said people needed to be respectful of those running into harm’s way or think of the loss of loved ones who may have been behind their desks beginning work.
“Lord, here we are 19 years later, still resolved as ‘one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’” Propster declared.
John and Renee Keithley lived in Gardnerville at the time but now live in Carson City.
“I was at a friend’s house in the morning having coffee and watching TV, and we saw the planes hit,” he recalled. “It was wild.”
Keithley said they were impressed with the response in New York City and the nation. Renee said she was watching TV with her teenage daughter, who witnessed people dying.
“It was a horrifying day,” Renee said. “It was a wake-up call for America.”
The Keithleys said they are appreciative of Propster and the ministerial association for putting on the annual remembrance.
Not only did Propster ask for prayers for those who showed their heroism in 2001 but also to the firefighters and military personnel saving people from the forest fires currently burning primarily in three West Coast states. He also mentioned other events such as floods and the devastation caused by the loss of jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. Propster prayed for Pastor Bruce Henderson’s granddaughter who lost everything in one of the forest fires in Oregon. Henderson is pastor of the Airport Road Church Of Christ.
Sheriff Kenny Furlong said Friday is a somber day to think of the devastation but to thank valiant first responders who spurned danger to enter burning buildings to save lives.
“This is the day what joined America for 19 years. This is the day when people come together in this country,” he said.
Every year at this time, though, Furlong takes everyone back to the fatal shooting at the IHOP Restaurant on Sept. 6, 2011, when a lone gunman killed four innocent bystanders including three members of the Nevada Army National Guard. Afterward, the gunman fatally shot himself. Furlong said the community rallied to support each other on that day and days after, and he added Mayor Bob Crowell calls Carson City “a purple town” because in times of need, everyone pitches in. Furlong said first responders are always ready for any challenge.
“Every single day, we are prepared for whatever challenge,” he said.
Micah Horton, a battalion chief with the Carson City Fire Department for two years, noted on just one day 19 years ago, the country lost more than 2,000 civilians, 343 firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers and a number of other people.
Horton said it’s difficult to put into words how important it is for present or future generations tor remember events and the sacrifices that occurred on Sept. 11 from the first responders and the military, which he said deployed afterward to defend the homeland and still deploy today because of terrorism. As with Furlong’s thoughts on local tragedies, Horton, who has spent 15 years with the fire department, said Carson City’s community spirit is unique.
“I was born and raised in Carson City, and it was always my dream to work for the Carson City Fire Department,” he said. “I love this community since the day I was born and continue to love the community for this reason (the community spirit) and many more for the rest of my life.”