Sept. 11 weekend begins: Remembering Flight 93
A weekend of solemn ceremonies to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will begin Saturday in a rural portion of southwestern Pennsylvania, where thousands are expected to gather for the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Joe Biden will attend the ceremony near the town of Shanksville, along with relatives of the 40 passengers and crew members of United Flight 93, who rose up against the terrorists who had hijacked their flight. President Obama will attend an additional ceremony there Sunday.
Across the country -- in public ceremonies and in private moments -- Americans are remembering the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks of Sept. 11. They will mourn their loss and praise their heroism.
The website for the Flight 93 National Memorial describes what happened after four hijackers subdued the two pilots:
"For nearly half of an hour, the passengers and crew members discussed their situation and concluded that Flight 93 was being used by the hijackers to inflict harm and destruction in the nation’s capital. They reached a collective and daring decision to launch a counter-attack against the hijackers. As revealed by the cockpit voice recorder, several passengers and crew carried on a sustained assault against the hijackers for control of the plane. Minutes later, Flight 93 violently crashed into a vast meadow in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, destroying the plane and instantly killing all aboard."
The ceremony will dedicate the first phase of the memorial project. It includes a granite wall inscribed with the names of all who were aboard Flight 93 as well as a 900-foot walkway that offers a view of the place where the plane plummeted to the ground. The area is now covered with flowers.
California architect Paul Murdoch, who designed the memorial, explained the design’s intent in an interview with the Allentown Morning Call: “We used the large scale of the open site to give a heroic quality to the memorial, creating a long, arching walkway around a Field of Honor. We used the serenity of the rural landscape to inform the memorial expression as a cemetery, while working with the severity of the site's exposure and mining history to recognize it as a battleground.”
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. PDT. The Flight 93 National Memorial and History Channel are providing a live webcast of the event.
Later Saturday, at dusk, will be the lighting of 2,982 luminaries, one for each person killed in the attacks 10 years ago Sunday.
Photo: Former President George W. Bush speaks to former President Bill Clinton as former First Lady Laura Bush looks on at the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pa.