Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Zach Walker was 5 years old when terrorists hijacked four planes and changed America forever on Sept 11, 2001.
Sunday, he was at the Out of Town Park in Fernley to remember the more than 3,000 civilians and 400 first responders killed that day.
Walker proudly flew a Flag of Heroes on the back of his truck, a U.S. flag in which the red stripes are adorned with the names of the emergency responders who lost their lives trying to rescue others on 9-11 and the days after.
Walker’s friend Bruce Chavez said he didn’t grasp the situation as it happened until he got much older, but Walker said his parents explained the situation to him thoroughly.
“I was at home sitting right in front of the TV watching the live news,” he said.
Walker said his parents were firefighters with Central Lyon County Fire District at the time, and he although he now lives in Reno, said he comes back to Fernley every year to remember 9-11.
“This is my town, and I love this place,” he said.
More than 100 people gathered at the Out of Town Park on the 15th anniversary of the Dept. 11 terrorist attacks for the annual ceremony hosted by the Nevada Veterans Coalition, in conjunction with the city of Fernley.
As part of the ceremony, Fernley’s Constance Antone-Knoll was named Fernley’s Patriot of the Year. She became involved with the fire department after moving her family to Fernley in the 1980s and later served as its medical director.
A parade of dignitaries urged attendees to remember not just the events of that day, but the lessons taken from it.
“This country is still at war against a few radical individuals,” mayor Roy Edgington said. “I ask that we not change our way of life for these radical few and we stand united against these individuals.”
Nevada Veterans Coalition chaplain Jan Hodges said what was shocking about the attacks is that it was the American way of life and its freedoms that were attacked.
“September 11 has indelibly shaped who we are, how we live our daily lives and what we believe in,” Hodges said. “Even today 15 years after the day, we strive to find hope in the sense of hopelessness. May terrorism in all forms disappear from the face of this earth.”
City councilman Dan McCassie spoke about what patriotism means to him, defining it as the love of our country from the cradle to the grave.
“Our freedom is not free,” McCassie said. “Someone paid the price for our freedom and some is still paying the price for our future freedom.”
North Lyon Fire Protection District chief Scott Huntley said America has shown its strength in the days, months and years since the 9/11 attacks.
“We are the home of the brave,” Huntley said. “We are filled with compassion and love. That is the message of 9-11.”
Huntley’s remarks mirrored those he gave Friday as the keynote speaker for the 9-11 ceremony at Fernley Intermediate School, in which the students honored first responders in its seventh 9=11 memorial ceremony.
The ceremony, led by the fifth and sixth grade school’s leadership students, began with a video thanking first responders. Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson read letters expressing gratitude for the nation’s first responders, and then Huntley spoke of his belief that there are angels among us.
“I see angels every day, and I’m proud to work with some of them,” he said. “You have the ability to be an angel yourself. You have the ability to be destructive, or to build.
By contrast, Huntley said, the 9-11 attackers didn’t have the the ability to feel compassion.
I feel sorry for them and I feel sorry for people around the world who don’t have it,” he said. “I believe Americans, as people, we’re here to make the world better.”
Fernley Intermediate principal Rob Jacobson said the students and the staff appreciate all that Fernley’s first responders do for them on a regular basis.
“They show up at school on a regular basis just to check in, and we appreciate all of them,” Jacobson said. “From practicing lockdowns to just checking on our well-being, they have the students’ and staffs’ best interests in mind.”