McCain and others celebrate the lives of Flight 93 victims

Megan Rozsa

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. – On September 11, 2001, the last phone call was received at 9:55 a.m. This was the last the nation heard from the passengers of United Flight 93, a plane that departed from Newark Airport and was headed to San Francisco.

The terrorists took action when the plane was flying over Cleveland and turned the plane around. As the passengers phoned home to alert their families that their plane had been hijacked, they learned of the World Trade Center’s demise. It was then that they discovered what their hijackers had intended to do, that their plane was headed toward Washington, D.C.

The passengers knew what they had to do: risk their lives to save the other lives in danger. The passengers of Untied Flight 93 gave their lives, and this morning, they were honored at a temporary crash site memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

The event was sponsored by the National Park Service and has been held every year since 2001. In three years, there will be an official permanent memorial for the passengers of Flight 93.

Several speakers arrived, including Sen. John McCain; Ken Wainstein, director of the Office of Homeland Security; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; and Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93.

Each speaker paid his or her respects to the passengers of Flight 93.

“We are gathered at the Flight 93 temporary memorial to overlook our sacred ground where 40 individuals were torn from their families,” said Felt. “We know that their final journey ended in tragedy, but their collective efforts are held in high esteem in that they would not allow themselves to be used as pawns in the tragic event unfolding on that fateful day.”

Felt went on to say that he feels the public should help the children of that year remember what happened Sept. 11 in Shanksville.

“9/11 to our children is our Gettysburg, our Pearl Harbor,” he said. “How can we help today’s children? How can we inspire future generations to be motivated by the courage displayed on 9/11 by so many heroes? The answer is simple: by remembering.

“By remembering the heroes and their actions. By remembering our responses and the impact that 9/11 had on our lives. Remember that it could have happened to any one of us.”

McCain took the stage after the governor of Pennsylvania. He said the people in Washington, D.C., owe their lives to the people who were aboard Flight 93. Without them, that plane could have gone right to the White House or Capitol Building.

“Hundreds if not thousands of people who work in that building could have been destroyed along with the beautiful symbol of our freedom,” said McCain. “Those good people grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.”

He went on to say that he spoke at the memorial service of one of the passengers. He said the man’s love for the United States was unfathomable.

“It’s our goal to be as good of Americans as these people were,” he said. “We may fall well short of their standard, but there’s honor in the effort.”

i>Contact public affairs reporter Megan Rozsa at [email protected].