“On September 11, 2001 everything changed as almost 3,000 Americans died that day,” Paul Benedict said in his opening comments as he led the Exchange Club of Mesquite remembrance ceremony in front of City Hall on Friday, Sep 11. “Americans are still dying today because of that attack on our nation. The attacks on September 11 were a strike to all of us no matter when we were born, no matter where we were born.”
Following the Pledge of Allegiance by Mesqite’s Boy Scout Troop 87 and the National Anthem led by the Virgin Valley High School choir, Mesquite Mayor Al Litman gave a passionate speech about the aftermath of that fateful day as it’s honored 14 years later.
“Although many of us were not in New York City that day, we must not let the brave acts of our heroes, both living and dead be in vain,” he began. “The anniversary of 9-11 isn’t just an opportunity to reflect on the past and move on. We must continue to learn from it. It is a call to be vigilant as we look to the future.”
Mayor Litman went on to say “The terrorists attacks that day were just a small start to a scheme to bring terror and destruction to our way of life. To believe it is over is a mistake.”
After saying it’s nice to believe that if we care about others they will care about us “that’s just a dream. We are under siege around the world,” Litman continued. “The inability or unwillingness to consider radical Islamic terrorists to be a threat to America is wrong. That attitude was infamously displayed by a former counterterrorism specialist in July 2001 in a paper titled the Declining Terrorist Threat. Need I say more about what happened just two months later?
“Yes, Osama Bin Laden is dead but others have taken his place. Today the United States and others are challenged by the Islamic State throughout the Middle East. We have watched their savage acts. They have murdered our citizens. They have destroyed much of the history of the ancient world. They have created hundreds of thousands of refugees.
“Our government sits back and watches. Our President called ISIS the ‘junior varsity team.’ Folks, this isn’t a sporting event; this is our future as a free people. We were blindsided once before. We cannot afford to blindsided again,” Mayor Litman said.
After Mesquite Fire Chief Kash Christopher and Mesquite Deputy Chief of Police Scott Taylor laid a memorial wreath on the podium while Dennis Hangey played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, the past president of the Exchange Club Diane McClure made two honorary presentations.
The first was to Mesquite Police Sergeant Robert Stepp as the Club’s Police Officer of the Year and then she honored Mesquite Fire Dept Captain William Martinez as the Club’s Firefighter of the Year.
Concluding the ceremony was a reception line for all of Mesquite’s finest Firefighters and Police Officers.