Nine years later, America remembers

Heather Anuta

First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush celebrated the lives of those on board United Flight 93 at the temporary memorial for the flight near Shanksville, Pennsylvania today.

Obama and Bush met with families of the passengers privately before the ceremony.

Obama touched on the accomplishments of the individual passengers, as well as the combined accomplishment that made them heroes in the eyes of many.

“They rose as one, they acted as one,” Obama said. “And together they changed history’s course. And in the days that followed that we learned about the heroes of Flight 93 and what they had done, we were proud, we were awed, we were inspired.”

Obama thanked Bush for the support she has provided to the families of Flight 93 and Americans since the terrorist attacks.

A moment of silence during the ceremony ended with the ringing of bells and relatives reading the names of the 40 passengers and crew members.

United 93 was one of the hijacked airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001. Unlike the other hijacked flights that day, the passengers aboard Flight 93 were able to keep their plane from reaching the terrorists’ intended target. They attempted to fight back against the terrorists, eventually causing the plane to crash in a field.

Ground has already been broken for a permanent memorial on the site. The National Park Service expects the first phase of the memorial to be completed by next year’s tenth anniversary. Two more phases will follow.

Joe Witte, a New York police officer was one of the thousands of visitors at the memorial service. He was one of the first responders as a part of the tow truck division, at Ground Zero Sept. 11, 2001, about a half hour after the Twin Towers fell.

“It was a scary day,” Witte said. “We were lucky we weren’t there at that particular moment when the towers fell.”

He passes Ground Zero every day, but this was his first visit to Flight 93’s crash site. Witte said he thinks it’s great that a memorial is being built where Flight 93 crashed, as well as at Ground Zero. He plans to visit the site again once the memorial is completed.