Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Kaylee St. Clair was less than a year old when terrorists brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon outside Washington , D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001.
But despite not having been old enough to have seen the attacks or remember them, St. Clair said the impacts of the 9/11 attacks have shaped the lives of many millennials like herself. As the keynote speaker of the Fernley 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Out of Town Park, she spoke of the importance of first responders and thanked those in attendance and those who could not be there.
The first thing, she said, is that life is precious and is not be taken for granted, and that people must
“It showed us that being united is a crucial part in keeping our country strong,” St. Clair said. “It has showed the importance of law enforcement and our military and the huge sacrifices they make for people that sometimes do not even support them.”
She said what happened on 9/11 does not just shape us physically with the lives lost, but mentally by showing that some people do not value the gift of freedom to live in our country.
“I believe we as millennials and upcoming leaders have the biggest impact on what has happened and the change starts with us,” she said. “We have the choice everyday to do something different as a member of society that is slowly being divided.”
St. Clair said although 9/11 did not impact her at the time personally, it has given her a different outlook on the world and made her realize how privileged she is to have people risking their lives to protect her.
“We must support those who protect us, and we must not let our differences and opinions divide us,” she said “We must not give in to the hatred and we must overcome that by uniting with one another to be stronger.”
North Lyon County Fire Protection District Chief Scott Huntley struggled to contain his emotions as he related the story of two toddlers and two grandparents.
Eunice Hansen gave her granddaughter, Christine Lee Hansen, a Peter Rabbit, in acknowledgement of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, which replaced her previous favorite play thing, a red Teletubby.
At two and a half years old, Christine Hansen was the youngest of the eight children who were killed on 9/11. The family was flying to flying to Los Angeles to visit her mom’s relatives and go to Disneyland, but the plane was hijacked and crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center..
“I don’t know Eunice, but today she is with me,” Huntley said.
Jaxson James Huntley turned two Aug. 20. He is an active toddler that loves tractors, fire trucks and monster trucks, Huntley said.
“Jaxson James Huntley has a bright and unlimited future,” Huntley said. “He intends in going to Disneyland in a year and half with his papa. He’s greatly loved by his papa, and I can only imagine the pain and loss by Eunice Hansen. Her dreams of watching her granddaughter grow were ripped away. I feel I owe it to Eunice Hansen to savor my Jaxson.”
Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil said that until 9/11, terrorism was mostly limited to acts Americans saw on foreign shores.
“But on Sept. 11, the world of terrorism came to the shores of the United States, and we were no longer isolated,” McNeil said.
That created a sense of nationalism, as the ranks of those joining the ranks of the military began to swell.
“Today, we must not fall into a sense of false security,” he said. “There are still lone wolves who avoid detection in order to become a false martyr by killing and harming more innocent people.”
McNeil, with Mayor Pro Tem Sue Seidl, also presented Fernley’s Patriot of the Year award to Nevada Veterans Coalition volunteer Sharon Serekno.
The day before the ceremony, Serenko was working on her computer when her son, Keith Gravely, sent her a text asking what she was doing. Gravely told her to look out her front door, and as she did, he was walking up to her front door.
“He flew out from Orange County just for this,” Serenko said. “I am just overwhelmed.”
Gravely, who lives in Lake Forest, Calif. said he’d been told a couple of weeks before about the award, but was sworn to secrecy.
Serenko and her husband Mick moved to Fernley in 1991 after he retired from the Navy, and he served as a LCSO deputy. In 2004, he died of a massive heart attack while transporting a prisoner to jail.
Serenko has volunteered with the coalition and as a LCSO Volunteer in Policing since then. She is one of three chaplains with the Veterans Coalition and serves as its treasurer, and also serves on the Lyon County Sheriff’s Advisory Council which raises money for the K-9 program, among other activities.