Shanksville, Pa—Ten years after 9/11, the site of the Flight 93 crash was memorialized and commemorated in front of families of victims, government officials and citizens. “We gather here to remember ordinary men and women who did an extraordinary act of courage in an extraordinary way,” said Rev. Paul Britton in the opening address.
“For many of us this is the first time in 10 years that we have been back. The memories are still fresh,” said Father Steven McKeown, FBI chaplain.
Family members and honored guests read the names of their loved ones followed by symbolic ringing of bells. Wallace Miller, Somerset County coroner, fought back tears while reading a litany where the audience responded, “we remember them.”
The opening remarks by Gov.Tom Corbett added Shanksville to a list of hallowed ground, referencing places like Gettysburg, Pa. and the Alamo.
“The truth is this location, this place, is like no other because the deeds aboard Flight 93 were like no other. There is nothing with which to compare the passenger uprising of 10 years ago; it has no companion in history in my mind. The passengers of Flight 93 charted a new course, set a new standard for American bravery,” said Corbett.
Rep. Mark Critz, Rep. Bill Shuster, former Gov. Tom Ridge and president of Families of Flight 93 Gordon Felt also shared remarks.
“As I continue to think about this wall, this flight path in, I think about what the passengers were thinking. Did they know the magnitude of what they were doing? I’m sure they had some idea but they couldn’t have known what this would mean to all of us,” said Critz.
“This is the place where Americans said no they weren’t going to stand for what was happening. They heard about it. As horrific as the day was, it brings a smile to my face to think that they took a vote, only in America would people take a vote, decide to make a plan, and act on it. This is the greatest country in the world,” said Shuster.
“We still grieve. It’s still hard not to speak [of the victims] without tears. It’s still hard at times to laugh. We’d rather share a laugh. But with [the victims] beside us here this Sept. 11, we continue to celebrate [their] lives and legacies,” said Ridge.
“We lost too much those 10 years ago. The anguish of Sept. 11 continues to overwhelm in many questions whose answers remain illusive: Why and for what purpose was this battle forced upon the 40 on Flight 93?” said Felt.
Keynote speaker John Hendricks, founder and chairman of discovery communications focused more the preciousness of life in general on a worldwide scope.
“The degree of terror and horror that some humans can inflict on others is indeed terrible and unspeakable, but today we must think and speak about it. To do anything else would disservice to our family members and friends who on Sept. 11, 2001 directly witness and confronted that awful truth,” said Hendricks.
According to a close friend of Jean and Don Peterson, two victims of the crash, Joan Fleischl, the commemoration was a tribute to the deaths of the victims.
“It’s also a time for us to grieve as though [we were] visiting in the cemetery where someone was buried on the anniversary of their death,” said Fleischl.