Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 | 4:16 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun coverage of the 9/11 anniversary
- 10 years after tragedy, is Las Vegas any safer?
- Reflecting on how Sept. 11 has changed our lives
- 9/11 memorial T-shirts fashioned into art at UNLV
- Reporter forced to face his own fears at Ground Zero
- Jon Ralston: What we’ve lost since Sept. 11
- Sun Editorial: Sobering anniversary brings memories, reminders of what’s important
- 10 years later, Las Vegas Sun photo of girl with flag still resonates
- Palo Verde students preserve 9/11 tradition — and teacher’s legacy
A note tucked next to a World Trade Center beam on display in the Fremont Street Experience conveyed the emotions of many Southern Nevadans commemorating the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.
“To the victims of 9/11 — I never got the chance to meet you, but I will never forget you.”
The 19-word message written rests among a sea of flowers, thank-yous and a newspaper announcing Osama bin Laden’s death. The steel beam — etched with scratches from efforts to obtain victims’ DNA — drew a small crowd Sunday morning as onlookers paused to reflect and, in some cases, touch the physical reminder of the national tragedy that unfolded on American soil.
Las Vegas resident Matthew Kubiak brought his 9-year-old daughter, Alexandra, to see the beam as part of his mission to teach her about the historic event that shaped the world six months before her birth.
“She’s still kind of grasping the complexity of it, but she’s getting there,” he said.
As Alexandra stood next to the beam and leaned over to touch it, fellow onlooker and Las Vegas resident Jim Shehane mused that it’s nice to see children participating in the anniversary.
“It is special,” he said. “It’s nice to see the people get to see an actual piece and touch it. To see this again rekindles some of the unity we felt that morning, but it’s going to be short-lived.”
The beam was one of several 9/11-related remembrances in Las Vegas on Sunday. A Heroes Parade began at 5:46 a.m. downtown — simultaneous with New York City events marking 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center’s north tower.
“You can’t say it was a fun parade,” said Jackie Lamb, a North Las Vegas resident. “It was very somber, but it was touching to be there and see it.”
The 9/11 Remembrance Committee, formed by volunteers from the city and law enforcement agencies, organized the parade, along with a host of other events across the valley.
By 11:11 a.m., Lamb was at another 9/11 ceremony — this time a memorial service hosted by Metro Police and surrounding law enforcement agencies at Police Memorial Park in the northwest valley.
“It’s hard to remember it, but we need to remember it,” said Lamb, whose son-in-law was representing the Nevada Highway Patrol in the ceremony’s Honor Guard. “I’m hoping (patriotism) carries over and people remember why we’re having this.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman opened the speech portion of the service by thanking first responders for their daily quest to keep the city safe.
“This community is ready when and if there is another terrorist attack,” she said. “We rely on each one of us and each one of you to be ready, to have your eyes open at any time. The world is forever changed.”
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Myers challenged community members to remember another way the nation changed in the days immediately following 9/11: the warm gestures among strangers and surge of American flags.
“As we memorialize these selfless men and women (who died), I believe they would want us to memorialize the community spirit, the patriotism, the love for our neighbors that existed in our communities those uncertain days,” he said.
Sheriff Douglas Gillespie reminded the patriotic crowd assembled in the park that “our values as a nation cause others to want to harm us.”
Instead of harping on national security issues and our enemies, however, Gillespie said Sept. 11 should be a day to honor the heroes who gave their lives that day.
“When I think of 9/11, I remember the heroes,” he said. “I remember the pictures, the videos and the stories of their sacrifices. Those memories give me a sense of pride, a motivation to never forget their sacrifice.”
It’s those memories that brought Las Vegas resident John Porcello to the outdoor service. Donning a New York Fire Department hat, the former New Yorker said he was up all night thinking about the attacks and began watching television coverage of ceremonies at 4 a.m.
“It brought the country and the world together more, and you look at people differently,” he said. “I do more for my neighbor.”