The annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony has been conducted every year since 2002 in the courtyard behind Fallon City Hall with Mayor Ken Tedford reminding the guests of the devastation caused when terrorists hijacked four passenger jets, crashing three of them into buildings, and causing another to nosedive into a field in western Pennsylvania.
Tedford said it’s important for this part of American history to be remembered each year by those who were a witness to history and those born after one of the darkest days.
“We gather here to remember Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, a beautiful fall morning. Parents dropped off their children at school and travelers were getting ready to board flights,” Tedford said.
The mayor noted others were at work either at the World Trade Center located on the southwestern side of lower Manhattan, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., or offices across the United States. Then, as Tedford, said the whole world changed when America was attacked.
“We saw the World Trade Center in New York City collapsed after jets filled with innocent passengers were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers killing (2,750 people — passengers, people in the building and first responders),” Tedford said.
Hundreds of miles west of New York and Washington, D.C. passengers aboard United Flight 93 attempted to gain control from hijackers, but the Boeing 757 crashed in a field east of Pittsburgh. Investigators concluded the jet would’ve crashed into a government building if not for the heroic passengers.
“The horror and anguish of the dark day has been seared into our nation’s memory forever,” Tedford said. “It was the worst attack on our country since Pearl Harbor and even worse, this attack was not only on the military but on the civilians and first responders. Innocent men, women and children were taken so needlessly from their families.”
After the shock of the attacks, Tedford said the Fallon community felt anger and disbelief but came together in a positive way.
“We organized how best to help the communities of New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.; and the families of those who perished in those attacks and the first responders who ran into the path of terror.”
Tedford said firefighters, police officers and first responders passed the fireman’s boot to gather donations. Students wrote letters of support and condolences to the families and their loved ones. In Fallon, the community and the Lahontan Valley News created an American flag mural in what is now known as Millennium Park. Tedford said the city of Fallon offered to assist.
Fallon City Council members, from left, Kelly Frost, Karla Kent and Paul Harmon pay their respects at the city’s 9/11 Memorial.
“The people of New York graciously donated to Fallon a steel beam from the twin towers and Public Works Director Jerry Mayfield was asked to bring back the beam which you can see here in the middle of the monument behind me,” Tedford said.
Fallon architect Frank Woodliff III was commissioned to design the memorial. A memorial dedicated to 9/11 was unveiled in 2012. A steel beam from the World Trade Center jutting out serves as a reminder of that September day as does another memorial dedicated to Spec. Jason Disney, who grew up in Fallon. On Feb. 13, 2002, Disney died in a welding accident in Afghanistan as battalion soldiers ensured improvements were made at Bagram Air Field before more soldiers arrived at the sprawling base northeast of the capital city Kabul.
After the ceremony, Mayfield described the experience.
When I got there (destroyed WTC site), there was no access via a vehicle in that area,” he recalled. “I had walked 3 miles to get to that site. Once I got to that site, they had a piece of metal set aside for the city, but it was the length of a truck.”
Mayfield realized there could be a problem removing a piece of the beam from the site.
First responders were recognized during the Fallon 9/11 remembrance. From left, Fire Marshall Mitch Young, left, and Alex Haffner, John Ezzell, Jeff Prinz and Gary Johnson of the Fallon/Churchill Volunteer Fire Department place flowers on the memorial wall.
“I was on my feet. So we got some workers and cut it into pieces. I could handle it, and I had to carry it out on my back to where I get a taxi cab back to the hotel,” Mayfield added. “We could’ve had a longer piece, but that’s all I could carry.”
Mayfield ensured the package was wrapped securely and UPS shipped it to Fallon.
“In 30 years with the city, it’s the highlight of my career,” Mayfield said about his mission to New York City.
The former Navy corpsman left the military and remained in Fallon. The eeriness of the WTC will stay with him for years.
“The scene at Ground Zero was very somber time for all the people done there,” he said. “There was very little chatter, and everyone was working.”
As he has done at previous 9/11 remembrances, Tedford read the chronology of terror that puts 9/11 into perspective by noting the sequence and time of each event that occurred during the day. As he read the chronology, many in the audience listened, eyes fixed on the mayor. Others bowed their heads
During the 90-minute ceremony, the remembrance included thoughtful passages and music. The Rev. Jose Sobarzo from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church delivered the invocation, and near the conclusion, Chaplain Reiner Harper from Naval Air Station Fallon offered the benediction.
The Churchill County High School choir sang the national anthem and Amazing Grace, which was followed by the Mason Valley Fire Protection District Bagpipers. The CCHS Naval Junior ROTC presented the colors, and the American Legion Ceremonial Team presented the 3-volley salute.
Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford, right, recaps the purpose of remembering Sept. 11, 2001.