by Abbey Snow

The Exchange Club of Mesquite to hold annual Remember 9/11 Ceremony

The Exchange Club of Mesquite invites all residents and visitors to pause with them on Saturday, September 11, at 6:30 PM on the lawn in front of Mesquite City Hall to remember and reflect on the tragic events from 20 years ago, when approximately 3000 people lost their lives.

The 9/11 ceremony is organized every year by The Exchange Club of Mesquite as a visible and poignant reminder that our Nation survived those attacks. This year special attention will be paid to the children of our first responders left behind and how their lives were affected. They encourage entire families to attend, as children will be a major part of the ceremony.

Paul Benedict is serving as President of the Exchange Club of Mesquite. His term began on July 1, 2021. Before he officially joined in 2014, he volunteered a lot of time helping the club. His wife, Barbara, has been an active member since 2002.

Representatives from the Mesquite Police and Fire and Rescue Departments have spoken at past ceremonies and will do so this year. However, because the focus this year is on youth, each department will also introduce a child from one of their families to speak briefly about their impressions of having a Mom or Dad in uniformed service to our community. Benedict himself will speak as well as Mayor Al Litman, Benedict said.

“Each year, our ceremony focuses on one aspect of the events of 9/11,” Benedict said. For instance, heroes like the Boatlift; the passengers of Flight 93; or dogs (search & rescue, cadaver, and therapy). This year, our focus is on children. None of the students in our high schools or lower grades were alive in 2001, so to them this is just a footnote in their history books. We plan to bring attention to the horror that 9/11 had on the lives of the estimated 3,050 children and 800 children of first responders who lost a parent that day.”



Fire Chief Jayson Andrus and Police Lt. Rob Stepp are hanging the wreath on a wreath stand in front of the podium at the 2018 ceremony. Paul Benedict is standing on the left. (submitted photo by Paul Benedict)



This year children from Mesquite Police and Fire and Rescue families will be carrying 20 American Flags in answer to 20 chimes of remembrance. They expect a large attendance as both departments will be bringing their families, so they ask that attendees please bring chairs so they don’t have to sit on the grass, Benedict said.

“As part of the ceremony, the Department Chiefs will be placing a memorial wreath on the stage, while Bagpiper Dennis Hangey plays Amazing Grace,” Benedict said. “Pastor Bill Montgomery from the First Baptist Church of Mesquite will deliver the Invocation, and the National Anthem will be sung by members of the Mesquite United Methodist Church Choir.”

Due to COVID restrictions on gathering, the Exchange Club was unable to conduct a ceremony in 2020, however they placed 10 Flags curbside in front of City Hall like they do each year on September 11th. The Mesquite Fire and Rescue also suspended a large Flag from a ladder truck over Mesquite Blvd.



Mesquite Fire and Rescue suspended an American Flag over Mesquite Blvd  on September 11, 2020 ( submitted photo by Paul Benedict)




“The 40-minute ceremony will be brief, and the words will be few, but the need to join together in remembrance has never been greater,” Benedict said. “America grew stronger that day, with a renewed sense of patriotism. Our Fire and Police Departments will be well-represented, giving us an opportunity to thank them for all they do, and for all they are willing to do, to keep us safe.”



Mesquite Fire and Rescue suspended an American Flag over Mesquite Blvd  on September 11, 2020 ( submitted photo by Paul Benedict)




The National Exchange Club is the only service organization exclusively serving communities in the United States. Exchange’s Core Values are family, community, and country, Benedict said. “The Mesquite club is the only Exchange Club in the State of Nevada,” Benedict said. “We are part of the Four Corners District, which includes Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, TX.”

The Exchange Club of Mesquite will soon be celebrating their 25th year. Their charitable arm, the Exchange Club of Mesquite Foundation, holds fund-raising events such as One Thousand Flags Over Mesquite. They also receive out-of-pocket donations. All proceeds are distributed to worthwhile educational, patriotic, charitable, and community programs within the Virgin and Moapa Valleys, Benedict said.

They currently meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at the Mesquite Veterans Center on Hafen Lane at 12:00 noon. The public is always welcome to attend.

“We’re a small club with about 20 members and always hoping to grow,” Benedict said. “New members are critical to the growth of any community organization, and their ideas and enthusiasm are encouraged. Thankfully, we are constantly amazed by the number of non-member volunteers who help us with our community programs. We could not accomplish as much as we do without their help, and we thank them sincerely.”

For more information about the Exchange Club of Mesquite contact them at