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‘The country came together’: Speakers remember 9/11 victims, first responders 

By Steve Ranson

A familiar voice to Churchill County reminded residents and friends at this year’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony to remember the evils of Sept. 11, 2001, while honoring those who died and heroically saved others.

Former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, now the president of the University of Nevada, Reno, also served as the state’s commander in chief. During his two terms, hundreds of Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen deployed overseas or remained in the continental United States to ensure their fellow citizens remained safe after terrorist attacks occurred in New York City, at the Pentagon and at field in western Pennsylvania.

“It’s tinged with sadness as what we lost as a nation on Sept. 11,” Sandoval said, adding the day, now referred to as Patriot’s Day, was comparable to Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sandoval was the guest speaker at this year’s remembrance ceremony that also included addresses from the clergy, musical presentations by the Churchill County High School choir, the Mason Valley Fire Protection District Bagpipers and, Melinda Lira, who sung “God Bless America.” Four Churchill County High School Naval Junior ROTC cadets presented the colors, while an American Legion military ceremonial team fired a volley of three and a bugler played Taps. 

Sandoval reminded the audience of the tragedy displayed on that September day 21 years ago. Terrorists hijacked four passenger jets with two passenger jets slamming into each tower of the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the fourth in a field near Shanksville, Pa., 79 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

“We remember the heroes and the exceptional act of bravery of the 2,996 people who were killed including 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers,” Sandoval added. “We are letting the world know as a people — the people of this county, the people of this state, the people of this nation — that we never forget.”

After 9/11, Sandoval said the nation’s resolve grew, and as a result, the displayed courage from those involved continue to make Nevada and the United States great. He said that whenever the nation suffers a terrible tragedy, it’s the duty of residents to remember the tragedy and to support each other in their neighborhoods, communities, towns and cities so that incidents such as 9/11 don’t repeat themselves. As Sandoval wrapped up his comments, he said it’s a duty for people to have the type of 9/11 ceremony Fallon has to remember the spirt of those people killed.

Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford and the city of Fallon took the lead among communities in Nevada to present an annual remembrance to honor the men and women from all walks of life who either died or showed the courage to save others. First responders who currently serve with the area’s fire departments, hospitals and law enforcement agencies also attended the ceremony, and afterward, they each placed a rose on the city’s 9/11 memorial along with residents and guests.

Twenty-one years ago on a Tuesday morning, Tedford said people’s lives on the East Coast were disrupted and later those who lived in different sections of the country. He said America was under attack as the four jets filled with innocent people slammed into three buildings and field.

“The horror and anguish of that dark day has been seared into our nation’s memory forever,” he pointed out. “It was the worst attack on our country since Pearl Harbor.”

Tedford, though, considered 9/11 worse that Pearl Harbor because terrorists attacked civilians and first responders in addition to military personnel. The Fallon mayor also read comments made by President George W. Bush when he addressed the nation later that night.

  “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” the president said.

 Even in the darkest times, Tedford said the country’s residents came together.

“When we face hardship, we emerge stronger, more determined than ever,” he said. “That day we were one nation under God.”

Tedford said there is not a day that goes by where families don’t think of their loved ones who died on Sept. 11. He also praised local residents who put differences aside.

“In Fallon and Churchill. County, we are fortunate to be working together always as one community,” he said. “We just learn to be kind, patient and compassionate toward each other no matter how we feel about our political issues, one’s faith, one’s skin color or one’s gender.”

 During and after 9/11, Tedford we were all Americans.

Every year, Tedford gives a chronology of terror listing how the events on 9/11 unfolded  After the attacks on New York City, he said many cities reached out to the mayor’s office offering help. Fallon also received a symbolic reminder from the mayor’s office, a steel beam from one of the WTC towers that is now part of the City of Fallon’s 9/11 memorial.

Dr. Kurt Carlson from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church delivered the invocation, and Pastor Caleb Szymanski from Oasis Community Church offered the benediction.  Carlson put strength and pain into perspective. He said a day doesn’t pass on the calendar that we, as Americans, don’t’ forget the events of Sept. 11, and the lives lost during and after the day. He noted many first responders have died because of illnesses caused by the destruction of the twin towers.

“We recall the horror and images that human eyes were not meant to see. We recall the angst of hearing the personal conversations of tender last words of husbands and wives who would not embrace again,” Carlson said.

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