Communities remain strong 18 years after 9/11
LVN Editor Emeritus
Although the pain of the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, remains vivid for many people who watched them unfold either in person or on television, speakers at Wednesday’s 911 remembrance at Fallon’s City Hall Courtyard spoke of the country’s resolve to remain strong and resilient.
Nearly 500 people listened to Mayor Ken Tedford and Brig. Gen. Ondra Berry, the state’s adjutant general, tell of the tragedy from 18 years ago when 19 hijackers commandeered four passenger jets and rammed three of them into the two towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another into a western Pennsylvania field.
This year’s remembrance on Patriots’ Day also provided a glimpse into both the past and the present when members of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association set up a static display of their vehicles next to the Douglass House. The convoy of 37 vehicles ranging from World War II to Vietnam stopped for four days in Fallon before leaving Thursday on the final three legs of a trip recreating a 1919 journey that crossed the United States on the Lincoln Highway less than a year after the end of World War I. Before the remembrance, convoy members visited the city’s 9/11 memorial to take photos or kneel in respect.
Since the city’s first 9/11 remembrance in 2002, Fallon’s annual event has been one of Tedford’s top priorities as mayor to honor first responders, the military and the people killed in the air and on the ground in what has been described as a dark day in United States’ history. Tedford said the worst attack on the United States took innocent men, women and children needlessly away from their families.
“Even through the darkest of times, Americans pull together,” Tedford said. “We are truly one country. When we face hardships, we emerge even stronger.”
From that day of death and destruction, Tedford said not only did the world change but every person changed.
“Our eyes are open to the depths of evil we face, and in that hour of darkness, we came together with a renewed purpose,” Tedford said.
On that Tuesday 18 years ago, Tedford said the nation saw the best of heroic Americans who sacrificed their lives by trying to save others trapped in horrifying conditions at the WTC and Pentagon. From that day and the days to follow, Tedford said Americans became stronger, wiser and more courageous. Furthermore, during the days that followed, Tedford said people were more united and embraced all faiths, races and gender.
Tedford paused as he looked at the crowd.
“The memories of those whose lives were lost will never, ever die,” he said.
Berry, who assumed command of the Nevada National Guard on Saturday, delivered a passionate, heart-filled speech to pay homage to those who died and to the people of Fallon and Churchill County who continue to remember.
“Fallon was one of the first cities in the nation to build a memorial for 9/11 and conduct annual remembrances after the terrorist attacks. Thank you for your support of our nation and our military,” Berry said. “This truly is a great Nevada community. You are home to Naval Air Station Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center. There’s a reason the Department of Defense entrusts such important military assets to this community. You are also home to the Nevada Army National Guard’s 609th Combat Engineer Company located at Fallon Armory. The 609th Sappers are proud to call Fallon home.”
Berry also thanked the MVPA for recreating the 1919 convoy for their dedication to the nation’s history.
In his remarks, Berry said 9/11 is a significant moment in American history that’s rare like the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr., in 1968. These events, said Berry, tested the country’s spirit in both the 20th and 21st centuries.
“It (9/11) was the worst act of terrorism on American soil in the nation’s history,” Berry pointed out. “Those killed also included 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 officers at the Port Authority. We hold remembrance events to honor the sacrifices made by those first responders. They answered their community’s call and saved lives even if they themselves would not live to see another day.”
Berry said President George W. Bush addressed the nation after the attacks and told of the “evil, despicable acts of terror” killing thousands of people. The scenes of collapsing buildings, fires and jets flying into buildings filled people with disbelief and sadness as well as with anger.
The adjutant general, who has a distinguished 32-year military career, reminded Fallonites of one of their own — Army Spec. Jason Disney.
“Two months after 9/11, the Churchill County High School graduate deployed as a wheeled vehicle repairman and welder with the 7th Transportation Battalion’s 58th Maintenance Co., out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina,” Berry explained. “In February of 2002, Specialist Disney died in a heavy equipment accident at Bagram Air Field, about 25 miles northwest of Kabul. Disney was the first ordnance soldier to die during the Global War on Terrorism.
“The main street at Bagram is named after Specialist Disney. He is also remembered with a monument in this courtyard here in Fallon. Monuments and remembrance days, like today, serve as public displays of our past. This is our history. And these memories bring us together as a nation.”
In closing Berry, thanked the people of Fallon and Churchill County.
“While you may be called the ‘Greenwave,’ this community bleeds red, white and blue,” he added.
The general thanked the community for its patriotism and support of first-responders, the Nevada National Guard and the military and civilians affected by 9/11.
Afterward, the crowd gave Berry a standing ovation.
As he has done during previous remembrances, Tedford read a chronology of terror by detailing the time and events of 9/11.
During Wednesday’s remembrance, second graders from E. C. Best Elementary School sung “God Bless America,” the Churchill County High School Junior ROTC paraded the colors and the choir sang the national anthem and later “Amazing Grace.” For the second year, the Mason Valley Pipes and Drums from Yerington led the procession of first-responders.
After the chronology of terror, the Chief Petty Officer Selects Class 126 from NAS Fallon conducted an Old Glory Flag Ceremony followed by a three-volley salute and the playing of “Taps” from the American Legion’s ceremonial team.
Council members Kelly Frost, Karla Kent and James Richardson placed the first roses. After Tedford and Berry placed their roses at the memorial and paused, many of those in attendance followed by filing in a single line to place flowers. Some people saluted, others wiped away tears as the line moved slowly.