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Pahrump community remembers 9/11

More than two dozen area residents attended the 5th annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Calvada Eye on Wednesday morning, exactly 18 years after the worst terrorist attack in American history.

The event, organized by members and leadership of the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club, was held at the First Responders Reflection Area, which was also created by local Rotarians.

Several dignitaries in attendance spoke about their respective memories of the events that unfolded in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

More than two-dozen area residents attended the 5th annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Calvada Eye on Wednesday morning, exactly 18 years after the worst terrorist attack in American history.

The event, organized by members and leadership of the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club, was held at the First Responders Reflection area, which was also created by local Rotarians.

Several dignitaries in attendance spoke about their respective memories about their of the events that unfolded in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington County Virginia and Shanksville Pennsylvania.

Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia recalled that he was working at the attorney general’s in Boston, Massachusetts when he first heard of the attacks that morning.

He noted that he actually worked with a man whose spouse was on one of the airliners that slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

“Michael Sweeney, was one of the troopers who worked in the AG’s office,” Arabia said. “His wife was Amy Sweeney who was a flight attendant on American Airlines flight 11 was reporting to people on the ground right up to the moment when the plane struck the tower. I also later found out that one of the guys who worked in my section lost three people on one of the planes, and another in the World trade Center.”

Arabis also praised the efforts of passengers on another hijacked airliner when he learned of their actions on that fateful morning, while on a commuter train.

“What I didn’t find out until later was that while I was sitting on that train, America had already started to fight back,” he said. “I’m talking about United Airlines flight 93. They got together and they decided to fight back. All they had was their brains and their spirit and their guts. They launched a counterattack against the terrorists. And they defeated the enemy. We don’t know what the target was, but whatever it was, those heroic ordinary Americans saved who knows how many lives, but we lost all of those fine people, and all of the other thousands. It is a testament to what makes this nation so great, and why we will not be defeated. To them, and to the first responders and everyone who suffered that day, may they all rest in peace and may God bless America.”

During her remarks, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly spoke about the importance of teaching history to America’s youth, by prefacing that the country is only as strong as its weakest link.

“We have to teach what freedom means to our younger generation,” she said. “History lessons can only teach you so much, but we are not teaching American history in school. This country was always built on what the population believed and what the population needed to do. And now, how many of you actually have a voice in what your children and grandchildren are being taught? Almost nothing.”

The issue of immigration was also broached by Sheriff Wehrly during her remarks, by noting that America is a country comprised of immigrants.

“But we are a country of immigrants that wanted to be Americans, that fight to be Americans, and hold together during a time of anguish,” she said.

Additionally, Wehrly provided her thoughts on illegal immigration during the ceremony.

“People who come into this country illegally don’t have our values,” she said. “They don’t really want to be Americans. They want to take jobs, and they want to send the money back to where they came from, but we need people who are dedicated to being Americans and living their lives under our responsibility to uphold our flag and our country and our ideas, and that has to be taught.”

Aside from foreign terrorists attacks, Wehrly told attendees that America is also being attacked from within.

“I think what people don’t realize is that we are being attacked everyday,” she said. “We are being attacked in the news media, we are hearing a whole bunch of propaganda about our country and our government, and what we are not doing. But we are not taking the time to see what we are doing. We need to look into what people are being taught, what people are seeing, what our kids are doing on their video games and the type of games that they are looking at.”

As a 30-plus year U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel, Dr. Tom Waters said he was Europe at the time of the terrorist attack on American soil.

“Waters recalled being at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, at Ramstein High School where he was an administrator.
Word of the attacks came during a staff meeting with teachers at the school.

“We had the TV on, and that’s when it all started,” he said. “We couldn’t believe it and we were told to evacuate the building because they didn’t know exactly what was going on and how widespread it was. That’s when our military had to move out to protect us Americans overseas, and the Germans sent in their military to protect our bases. That day lives in infamy.”

During his remarks, Nevada District 36 Assemblyman Gregory T. Hafen II spoke about the countless lives that were shattered in the aftermath of the attacks.

He also referenced a southern Nevada connection in relation to the hijackers.

“Nearly 3,000 people were killed, including 343 firefighters and paramedics and 72 law enforcement officers,” Hafen said. “The investigation on the day we refer to as 9/11, reveal that the hijackers were in Las Vegas in the weeks prior to the attacks. Today we take time to pause in remembrance of those who lost their lives, to recognize survivors’ struggles and to honor the sacrifices of the first responders and recovery workers. The vigilance awareness and dedication of first responders to ensure our safety is appreciated every single day. Briefly, I wish to take a moment to recognize the participation of the Rotary Club of Pahrump Valley, the Honor Guard of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, and the Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue services for their work and support in this annual remembrance ceremony, and making sure that this day remains one that we never forget.”

Meanwhile, former two-term Pahrump Valley Rotary Club President Roy Mankins talked about why he was inspired to organize the effort in creating the First Responders’ Reflection Area, where individuals and businesses can sponsor a customized brick which would adorn the site, erected 5 years ago.

“I did an online search and there are very few of these First Responder Reflection Areas around the country,” he said. “You would think every city would have one, but they don’t. I just thought it was important to take care of our local first responders and show them the appreciation that they justly deserve. People can still sponsor a brick by getting hold of their favorite Rotarian. They are very inexpensive and we don’t make any money off of them. We are just trying to keep the community a community.”

Additional speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony included Nye County Fifth District Court Judge Kim Wanker, and Nye County Commission Chair John Koenig.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes

“Our Tower Ladder apparatus actually served at both World Trade Center events in 1993 and again in 2001,” Fire Chief Scott Lewis said. “As a result, we like to bring it out and display it during the communities 9/11 observances over the years.

The ceremony began with a presentation of ‘colors,’ by members of the Nye County Sheriff’s office.

Fire Chief Scott Lewis, along with firefighters and EMT’s from Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services attended the event along with members from Nye County Search and Rescue.

Personal account

Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia recalled that he was working at the attorney general’s office in Boston, Massachusetts when he first heard of the attacks that morning.

He noted that he actually worked with a man whose spouse was on one of the airliners that slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

“Michael Sweeney was one of the troopers who worked in the AG’s office,” Arabia said. “His wife was Amy Sweeney, who was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 and was reporting to people on the ground right up to the moment when the plane struck the tower. I also later found out that one of the guys who worked in my section lost three people on one of the planes, and another in the World Trade Center.”

Arabia also praised the efforts of passengers on another hijacked airliner when he learned of their actions on that fateful morning, while on a commuter train.

“What I didn’t find out until later was that while I was sitting on that train, America had already started to fight back,” he said. “I’m talking about United Airlines flight 93. They got together and they decided to fight back. All they had was their brains and their spirit and their guts. They launched a counterattack against the terrorists. And they defeated the enemy.

”We don’t know what the target was, but whatever it was, those heroic ordinary Americans saved who knows how many lives, but we lost all of those fine people, and all of the other thousands. It is a testament to what makes this nation so great, and why we will not be defeated. To them, and to the first responders and everyone who suffered that day, may they all rest in peace and may God bless America.”

Witnessing from afar

As a 30-plus year U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel, Dr. Tom Waters said he was in Europe at the time of the terrorist attack on American soil.

Waters recalled being at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, at Ramstein High School, where he served as an administrator.

Word of the attacks, Waters noted, came during a staff meeting with teachers at the school.

“We had the TV on, and that’s when it all started,” he said. “We couldn’t believe it and we were told to evacuate the building because they didn’t know exactly what was going on and how widespread it was. That’s when our military had to move out to protect us Americans overseas, and the Germans sent in their military to protect our bases. That day lives in infamy.”

Local connection

During his remarks, Nevada District 36 Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II, R-Pahrump, spoke about the countless lives that were shattered in the aftermath of the attacks.

He also referenced a Southern Nevada connection in relation to the hijackers.

“Nearly 3,000 people were killed, including 343 firefighters and paramedics and 72 law enforcement officers,” Hafen said. “The investigation on the day we refer to as 9/11, reveals that the hijackers were in Las Vegas in the weeks prior to the attacks. Today we take time to pause in remembrance of those who lost their lives, to recognize survivors’ struggles and to honor the sacrifices of the first responders and recovery workers. The vigilance, awareness and dedication of first responders to ensure our safety is appreciated every single day.

”Briefly, I wish to take a moment to recognize the participation of the Rotary Club of Pahrump Valley, the Honor Guard of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, and the Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services for their work and support in this annual remembrance ceremony, and making sure that this day remains one that we never forget.”

Brick by brick

Meanwhile, former two-term Pahrump Valley Rotary Club President Roy Mankins talked about why he was inspired to organize the effort in creating the First Responders Reflection Area, where individuals and businesses can sponsor a customized brick which would adorn the site, erected roughly five years ago.

“I did an online search and there are very few of these first responder reflection areas around the country,” he said. “You would think every city would have one, but they don’t. I just thought it was important to take care of our local first responders and show them the appreciation that they justly deserve. People can still sponsor a brick by getting hold of their favorite Rotarian. They are very inexpensive and we don’t make any money off of them. We are just trying to keep the community a community.”

Other speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony included Nye County Fifth District Court Judge Kim Wanker, Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig in addition to Sheriff Sharon Wehrly.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes

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