Never forget … always remember
Although the tragic loss of life that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 is now viewed in a historical context — especially by a generation too young to remember that day — speakers and guests at Fallon’s annual 9/11 ceremony said Americans should never lose sight of the memories or even the reality when thousands of people lost their lives at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania when hijackers killed 265 passengers on the four planes, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area and 125 at the Pentagon.
Fallon, which was one of the very first Nevada communities to erect a memorial for 9/11 and conduct annual remembrances, presents a solemn ceremony to honor the men and women who gave their lives 15 years ago. Mayor Ken Tedford said the day not only remembers the deaths of innocent people and the shock and fear that gripped both New York City and the rest of the United States but also the courage and resolve that unified Americans.
“From that fateful day, America changed forever,” Tedford said at Sunday’s ceremony held at the park behind City Hall. “We saw the manifestation of evil when two planes flew into the north and south towers of the World Trace Center,” he said, adding another passenger jet plane flew into the Pentagon and another when passengers overwhelmed the hijackers and brought a jet down into a field near Pittsburgh, Pa.
“On that day we saw the best in humanity, the best of those first responders and the best in heroic Americans who sacrificed their lives to save lives in the most horrifying conditions imaginable.
For days, even months after 9/11 Tedford said Americans united to help rebuild buildings and the nation’s confidence. That resolve from 15 years ago, said Tedford, has disappeared.
“America was united then. Today that unity seems to have vanished,” he pointed out. “American people must remember those days following the terrorist attacks and remember the unity in our country … that unbreakable spirit that kept us working together and the focus to keep us going through one of the most difficult times in American history.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has spoken at previous Fallon 9/11 ceremonies, said many people remember where they were when first hearing of the jets flying into the World Trade Center. He said it was a day the earth stood still.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy broke the dawn and peaceful morning as America faced one of her darkest days,” Sandoval said.
The second-term governor said he was sitting on a plane at the Reno Tahoe International Airport, but the passengers were soon ushered off the craft and back into the terminal. He said crowds of people were staring at the television in shock, disbelief, horror, sadness and danger.
“We knew our country and each of our lives would never be the same,” Sandoval recollected.
Sandoval said residents witnessed the very best of what it meant to be an American.
Yet, Sandoval said Americans must not forget the tragedy of 911.
“Sometimes we drift away from this unspeakable tragedy that changed the fabric of America. The faith we lead each year in small towns and cities across our nation and events like this — thank you, Mr. Mayor — evolve so we always, always, always remember that fateful day.
“This year and every year we recall what has been done and look ahead to honor and cherish the men and women of our military, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders to their constant vigilance and sacrifice,” Sandoval described. “We pray that our own acts of remembrance and respect will life up to the sacrifice of these brave men and women and their families.”
Sandoval said first responders leave home every day not knowing what the day will bring but are always willing to do what ever it takes to protect us.”
Not only did guests hear the two speakers but also listened to the Churchill County High School choir sing the national anthem and “Amazing Grace.” Likewise, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Connell, a Nevada Army National Guard soldier, played the bagpipes.
Churchill County District Attorney Art Mallory, who served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve from 1969-1991, said the country must never forget 9/11 and its aftermath.
“It was an attack on the freest county in the word,” he said. “We should never lose sight of any wars this country is a part. I hope we never forget any of these things. It’s a sad day when we forget sacrifices that allow us to be as free as we are.”
Fallon teacher Kieran Kalt, who served as an officer in the Nevada Army Guard and was recently honored as the Veteran of Foreign Wars State Teacher of the Year, said it is important foe her to tell her students about the patriotism and how the nation joined together after 9/11.
“Together on days like this we bond together,” she said of Sunday’s ceremony. “It’s very educational and very significant in teaching the youth of 911.”
Capt. Ron Wenger of the Fallon Police Department, like many Fallon residents, saw the events unfold on television news that day.
“Everyone was taking precautions that day,” Wenger said, without revealing some of the planning. “It’s important we remember every day and keep our complacency down.”
Choir director Tom Fleming said he prepared the choir for the ceremony and reviewed the events of 9/11 and the importance of Patriots Day. Fleming stressed the somberness of the occasion. He said everyone contributed to Sunday’s event.
High-school choir member Kiley Woolsey, who was 2 years old in 2001, said she takes pride knowing America remains a great nation.
“Through all the badness, good comes out of all things,” she said.