Bells rung, names read in honor of Flight 93 victims
SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — Hundreds gathered Friday on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to honor the passengers and crew killed in the downing of United Airlines Flight 93, in a ceremony next to a new visitor center intended to help keep alive the heroism of the passengers.
Relatives of the 33 passengers and seven crew members read their names as bells also rang in their honor on a hill overlooking the crash site.
Flight 93 was headed from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol. A passenger revolt ended with it going down in a field about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
"We don't want our kids to think of this as another plane crash. We want them to know that people chose to save lives at the cost of their own lives," said visitor Ben Mecham, 39, of Johnstown, who brought his 7-year-old son Parker to the commemoration.
His son said he thought the visitor center made the site special, "because this place is here to honor the people who have died for the sake of the White House and the president and everyone else that was in there."
"I can't believe they were brave enough to kill themselves for other people," he said.
The $26 million visitor center was dedicated Thursday.
In remarks after the bell-ringing, Gov. Tom Wolf said the actions of the passenger and crew that day "ennobled all of us."
"We learned that the world outside was, in fact, no longer outside," he said.
It was the first time the Flight 93 observance was not held at the Flight 93 memorial wall itself.
NBC News Chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski was the scheduled keynote speaker. He was in his office when he reported an explosion at the Pentagon that day, which turned out to be another hijacked airliner, American Airlines Flight 77, crashing into the building.
A Memorial Plaza near the plane crash site consists of a white stone wall that traces the doomed plane's flight path, with each victim's name engraved on a separate panel. There are still plans for a 93-foot-tall tower with 40 wind chimes near the national park's entrance.