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Somber Las Vegas ceremonies mark 9/11 anniversary

Updated September 11, 2020 - 8:36 am

A tribute to those lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks was held in front of Allegiant Stadium on Friday morning, with nearly two dozen first responders attending a flag-raising ceremony to honor the fallen.

“It means a lot to me to be here today,” Clark County firefighter Luke McCarthy said. “I was in D.C. on 9/11.”

McCarthy said he hopes Americans never forget the loss the nation suffered that day, as well as the valiant actions of first responders in helping their fellow citizens.

“It is nice to see the community come together on this day when there has been so much strife in this country,” McCarthy said. “I hope people remember the selfless acts of firefighters, police, all the agencies, and I hope this country heals.”

The somber tribute to those lost in the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago was one of two in the Las Vegas Valley on Friday morning. Shortly after the raising of the flag in front of the stadium, Las Vegas firefighters held what has become a traditional ringing of the bell in front of a municipal fire station.

Clark County firefighters, other first responders and members of the Las Vegas Raiders were among those attending the flag-raising ceremony at 6:30 a.m. in Ford Plaza at the new stadium. County Commissioner Michael Naft organized the event with the help of the Raiders.

“We can not only commemorate the lives of all those we lost in the attacks on 9/11, but also I think it is equally important we honor those heroes who are with us every single day,” Naft said. “Those who get up every single morning in our local community here in Southern Nevada, get out there to help us keep this economy going and keep us safe.”

Raiders President Marc Badain said it was an honor for the team to be a part of the ceremony.

“It is like it was yesterday,” Badain said. “We need to make sure people don’t forget what happened that day. If we can have an event here every 9/11 to memorialize that and keep it in people’s minds so we remember, we will do it.”

Law enforcement also was strongly represented, with Clark County School District police Capt. Ken Young singing the national anthem as an American flag was raised. School police Sgt. Bryan Zink said it was “very, very special to be here.”

That sentiment was echoed by Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Fred Haas.

“It is important for us to come together as a community … to love one another, to care for each other,” Haas said.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by the al-Qaida Islamic extremist group killed 2,977 people. Four commercial airplanes were hijacked, with two used to topple the World Trade Center towers in New York City. A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania.

The Las Vegas Fire Department’s ceremony at Fire Station Five on Hinson Street, near South Valley View and West Charleston boulevards, revolved around a longtime tradition in the fire service known as the “Tolling of the Bells.”

At 6:50 a.m., the approximate time of the South Tower collapse at the World Trade Center, a bell was rung to honor the fallen.

Not all the usual public observances in the Las Vegas Valley are going on as scheduled.

With schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Palo Verde High School decided not to host its annual remembrance of foreign-language teacher Barbara Edwards, who died in the attacks.

“Without having kids on campus, it loses its power, and we didn’t want to do anything second rate,” Principal Darren Sweikert said of the decision.

Sweikert said the school hopes to resume the tradition next year.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Aleksandra Appleton contributed to this report.

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