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‘Never forget’: Photos from Pahrump’s 9/11 memorial

“It was a day that tested our resolve, challenged our values and reminded us of the importance of unity in the face of adversity.”

These words, spoken by Nye County Commissioner Ron Boskovich during the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony in Pahrump, are a suitable summarization of one of the most appalling days in the history of America, Sept. 11, 2001.

Twenty-two years later, the scenes from that day still blaze bright in the minds of those who witnessed them and for whom the phrase “Never Forget” has a deep and abiding meaning.

Leading the charge in keeping the memory of Sept. 11 alive locally is the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club, which hosts a ceremony each year to serve as a reminder of everything the country lost, and all it gained, on the awful day.

Kicking off at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, the ceremony saw a crowd of area residents and first responders gather for a somber morning filled with tears and sorrow but also with hope for the future. Throughout the speeches made, there was a common theme – that of recalling the fierce patriotism and spirit of unity that emerged from the ashes of that day.

Welcoming the audience to the event was Pahrump Valley Rotary Club President Jeffrey Dye, who thanked everyone for turning out before introducing the Nye County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, which had the task of presenting the colors. Following a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem by Sheriff’s Sergeant Greg Curtin, Pastor Ryan Johnson offered an opening prayer.

“It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining through the trees, the sky is as blue as it could be, yet Lord, we view it through the shimmer of tears because, on this day 22 years ago, ill-intentioned people flew planes into buildings and thousands were lost,” Johnson intoned.

“It was intended to bring out the worst in us. But when the first responders ran in to save, rather than running away in fear, it was the best of us,” he continued. “That’s what we saw. And we thank you for that example. That is the country we have always aspired to be, Lord. Not one that runs in fear but one that rushes in to do the right thing.”

There were nine guest speakers slated for the ceremony, including Rotary Club past president Roy Mankins, who explained the background behind the ceremony’s venue of the First Responders Reflection Area.

“9/11 was a momentous event in history. It changed the United States completely. It actually changed the world completely. And there just weren’t any memorials to it,” Mankins stated. “That just didn’t seem right. So we decided to change that in our community.”

After months of fundraising, collaboration, design and construction, the First Responders Reflection Area was officially opened in 2016 and it has played host-site to the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony ever since.

Returning guest speaker Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II expressed his gratitude to the Rotary Club for building the reflection area and giving the community a place to commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11, remarking, ““This is why we’re here today, to remember the national pride that swelled and unified our country in the days that followed.”

Nye County Commissioner Ron Boskovich spoke as well, telling the crowd, “On this solemn day, we remember the lives lost, the families shattered, and the enduring impact of that fateful day. Although we gather here in Pahrump, far from the physical epicenter of the tragedy, the effects of Sept. 11 reverberated throughout our great nation.

“As we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, we must honor the memory of those who perished by reaffirming our commitment to principles that define us as a nation. We must remember the heroism displayed by countless individuals, from the first responders who rushed into danger to the ordinary citizens who selflessly aided their fellow Americans,” Boskovich continued. “Today, let us reflect on the power of unity as it was in the aftermath of 9/11. In the face of tragedy, we saw neighbors helping neighbors, strangers reaching out to comfort one another and a nation coming together as one. As a country, we must ensure that the spirit of unity endures. Let us strive to create an environment where inclusivity, compassion and understanding flourish. Let us embrace our diversity and reject the forces of division and hatred. By doing so, we are honoring the memory of those who tragically lost their lives on that dark day.”

Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone was yet another guest speaker, touching on the fact that he, during his time in military service, was at the Pentagon just one day prior to Sept. 11.

“That brings home a lot, because we could have stayed there an extra day, my team that was working on the B2 Bomber…” Carbone stated. “It kind of brings back some pretty horrible memories.”

Carbone then turned to the current state of the country, noting that he does not feel it is as strong as it could be. “We need to move forward, to get stronger. And we need as much help as we can get, from everybody that’s sitting out there as well as everybody in this country,” Carbone asserted.

Other speakers for the event included Nye County Sheriff Joe McGill, Nye County Emergency Manager and Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Lewis, Karen Jackson of KNYE Radio, Mikey Roohan of KPVM-TV and local resident Reva Braun.

Aside from speeches, the ceremony incorporated a presentation by the Nevada Silver Tappers as well as a formal bell ringing to mark the minute that each of the four airplanes involved in the Sept. 11 attacks crashed.

American Flight #11 was the first to meet with tragedy, slamming into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Pacific Time, killing all aboard along with hundreds in the building. At 9:03 a.m., the second plane, United Flight #175, hit floors 75-85 of the South Tower, also killing everyone on board and hundreds more inside. At 9:37 a.m. American Flight #77 crashed into the western facade of the Pentagon, killing 59 people on board and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building. Finally, at 10:03 a.m., United Flight #93 met its end in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to seize control from the terrorists. All 44 passengers and crew members were killed.

In total, 2,977 people lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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