Carson City speakers reflect on the tragedy of 9/11
Nevada News Group
Speakers reflected Wednesday on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when the worst act of terrorism occurred in the United States.
On a clear Tuesday morning in the Northeast, 19 terrorists hijacked four passengers jets, crashing two of them into New York City’s World Trade Center, and a third jet into the Pentagon across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. A fourth jet, though, never returned to the nation’s capital to commit more mayhem. Passengers stormed the cockpit and took control of United 93 by overpowering the terrorists. The jet, though, crashed in a western Pennsylvania field, killing all 37 onboard.
By the end of the day, almost 3,000 people on the ground and on the jets lost their lives.
Pastor Pat Propster of Cavalry Chapel welcomed the community to the Evening of Remembrance 9/11 on Wednesday night in Mills Park. Other representatives of the ministry speaking included Nick Emory, Hope Crossing; Bruce Henderson, Airport Church of Christ; and Charlie Colleton, Cavalry Chapel.
While Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, Sheriff Kenny Furlong and Fire Chief Sean Slamon remembered the heroism of the first responders and military on that day and the days after, they also urged those in attendance at the Mills Park 9/11 Memorial Site coordinated by the Carson City Christian Ministerial Fellowship to remember the tragedy and to pass the history of that day to future generations.
Crowell said Sept. 11 is a day to pay homage to those individuals who died and to the first responders, many of whom lost their lives in trying to save others. He also touched on Carson City’s day of tragedy eight years ago when a gunman opened fire at the IHOP restaurant, killing four people to include three soldiers with the Nevada Army National Guard, and a civilian woman.
“Today we remember that evil and cruelty continue to exist in this world, a reminder that as we go about our daily lives we must remain vigilant to protect us from the hostility of those who seek to destroy our nation and our way of life,” he said. “Today we reaffirm to keep the spirit of those who were lost or injured on both Sept. 11 and Sept. 6 in our hearts for eternity.”
Crowell said 9/11 is a day to celebrate the nation and people who withstand adversity, a trait that will not be diminished by any acts of terrorism. He touted the selfless acts of people who risk their lives helping others.
“And today we celebrate the basic goodness of the American people who every day can be seen helping those in need, even at the expense of their own lives,” he added. “Examples of the basic goodness and respect for humanity can be seen in the actions of our first responders, who, without fear of losing their own lives, braved unimaginable horror to save the lives of others on that terrible day 18 years ago.”
Crowell, a retired Navy captain who served during the Vietnam War, knows the importance of pride and compassion, which, he said, makes for a strong community and reminds residents they are not alone in the world. Additionally, Crowell said the community must never forget.
“So today as we retire to our homes and families for the evening, let us remember and never forget those who have suffered and those who are suffering still from the horrendous acts of evil that were visited upon our nation and community,” he said.
Furlong said America changed after 9/11 when thousands died that day including 71 law enforcement officers.
“The heroic actions of so many first responders and citizens alike — though it would cost them their lives — saved thousands upon thousands of others and at the end of the day, they left behind families, friends, broken by their losses,” Furlong said, adding every corner of the United States was affected.
As a result of 9/11, he said agencies have and will continue to improve public safety so that everyone is safe. Standing in front of a beam taken from the WTC, Furlong also explained the goodness that came from 9/11.
“From the fallen many to the heroes of that day to the American industries that designed and erected the magnificent towers, this is a nation of resolve and fortitude — the very fabric of this nation symbolized at this site,” Furlong explained.
The Carson City sheriff, though, told the crowd of almost 200 people that they and others can’t forget the tragedy of 18 years ago or the country will relive it. He said the day is one of remembrance and prayer that promotes the nation’s vigilance and preparedness.
Then, Furlong reflected on the 2011 shooting when he said the National Guard soldiers met at IHOP to make final preparations to protect the community, state and nation on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 hijacking.
“They lost their lives — they must never be forgotten,” Furlong stressed, then pausing to remember 9/11. “We are stronger and better prepared and can’t forget the losses on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Propster said Furlong has always been community-minded.
“He has always been the guy who is out there in front for us,” Propster said.
During the past two observances, Slamon reflected on the heroism of New York City firefighters who lost their lives. This year, he introduced retired FDNY Assistant Chief Joseph Pfeifer.
“I believe it is important that we not only remember the events, the videos, the memorials, it is more important that we learn about the people,” he said.
Propster agrees. Two or three speeches ago, Propster said Slamon said let’s always remember and never forget.
“The second phrase causes us to really reflect never forget,” Propster said.
Slamon referred to the first high school graduating class next year who weren’t born before 9/11. Propster, though, said he heard a Bethlehem Lutheran School history teacher was giving credit to students who visited the 9/11 memorial site at Mills Park.
“We need our young children to remember or we’re destined to repeat it,” Propster said.
Pfeifer, who was due to retire near the time of 9/11, instead remained with the FDNY for an additional 17 years before he stepped down last summer. On 9/11, he was a battalion chief when dispatch called several crews out to check a gas leak one block from the WTC.
“They heard a very large roar, recognizing a commercial airplane flying over downtown Manhattan,” Slamon said, noting planes don’t fly over the Manhattan skyline. “As Chief Pfeifer and his crews looked up, they saw the plane deliberately crash in the north tower.”
They notified dispatch, and since he and his crews were first on the scene, Pfeifer became incident commander responsible for a plan to send in firefighters to rescue the people in the tower.
“One of those firefighters he orders into that building was his brother, Kevin Pfeifer,” Slamon said. “Kevin Pfeifer was a lieutenant on Engine 33 that day. Lt. Pfeifer and his crew were ordered into that building by his brother to begin rescue operations.”
As Kevin Pfeifer and his crew began to enter the building, his brother looked back but said nothing. They instinctively knew what had to be accomplished. That was the final time the brothers saw each other. Lt. Pfeifer and his crew never returned. The five men of Engine 33 died as did 343 other firefighters on 9/11. Their deaths were not in vain, Slamon said.
“Over 20,000 people were rescued or evacuated from both towers,” Slamon added.
Shortly after 9/11. Slamon said Joseph Pfeifer developed the FDNY center for terrorism and disaster preparedness and became an expert in bridging the gaps between the fire department and law enforcement officers. FDNY, said Slamon, rebuilt from its darkest day.
Slamon said it’s important to recognize tragedy and sacrifice and to share stories of resilience.
“No matter how many times we get knocked down, no matter how many bad days we have, we always get back up,” he said.
He then encouraged the audience to remember 9/11, the day’s events, and how the nation came together.
“The pride in our country and the civility that followed was a true testament of our resolve and our character as a nation,” he said.