Thousands attend Shanksville Memorial, honor Flight 93

Written By Kelly Cline

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Adam McCoy of Altoona has a birthday that is recognized by millions of Americans as one of the most tragic days in history. For his father Eric, the day of Sept. 11, 2001 is a bittersweet memory.”With all the lives that were lost, I always say that we added one that day.”Eric and his son were among the thousands of individuals who attended the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial held on Saturday, to honor the passengers and crewmembers that lost their lives in the terrorist plane hijacking that crashed in Shanksville, Pa. on Sept. 11, 2001.Boy Scouts, motorcycle groups – including American Legion Riders, family members and friends of victims, former presidents, government officials and other individuals that wished to pay their respects to the victims lined the field in Southwestern Pennsylvania to witness the dedication of a permanent memorial.Jeff Fitch, of Stewartstown, traveled three hours to attend the memorial services. Having visited the site five years ago, he commented on the importance of people showing support for those that gave their lives to protect the country.”We are all here to support and show respect,” Fitch said. “Everything that those people did on that plane is admirable. They are heroes.”Director of National Park Services, Jon Jarvis, conducted the welcoming of the event. He explained that 10 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, Flight 93 took off from Newark, NJ headed to San Francisco. Terrorists hijacked the plan, as well as three others, in a planned attack against the country.Flight 93 was re-routed and began heading towards the Washington D.C. area, with the target believed to be the U.S. capitol.”They never made it,” Jarvis said. “Because of determination and power of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, that plane crashed in this field, less than 20 minutes by air from its presumed target.”The memorial pays respect to the 40 victims, some of whom worked together to fight against the intended terrorist attack. The names were read aloud, with representatives of the first responders tolling the Bells of Remembrance after each reading.Among attendants were a group of 23 people, mostly students and faculty, arranged by Point Park University to travel to the site. McKinley McMillen, freshman psychology major, traveled with the group and expressed her continued efforts to support her country and show respect for those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.”I consider myself a very patriotic American and I wanted to support however I can,” McMillen said. “I can’t be a firefighter and I couldn’t be there when it happened, but I can support the efforts and be there today.”Amanda McGuire, Community Director at Point Park, explained that the trip to the crash site was one piece of an entire set of events. The university has dedicated a week of events in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, including the photography exhibit, “10 Years After 9/11: Reflecting on Shanksville” by Scott Spangler, a Journalism and Mass Communications alumni.Friends of victims were among the crowd of people at the dedication. Nancy Green, a retired flight attendant and member of the Clipped Wings, remembers her interactions with the pilot and co-pilot who lost their lives on Flight 93. She had met the co-pilot two weeks prior to the crash. They had not exchanged names, but realized who he was when a photograph was shown on the television.”The captain, Jason Dahl, I had known for 20 years,” Green said. “He was a very nice, easy going and sweet man. I had known him since he was a little baby engineer and here he was, a captain.”The mood of the service was somber but hopeful. People grouped together and sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ as a flag was raised at the crash site. George W. Bush, former president, spoke to the crowd and offered an optimistic account of the impact that those brave victims had on the country.”Americans are alive today because the passengers and crew of Flight 93 chose to act and our nation will be forever grateful,” Bush said. “The 40 souls who perished on the plane left a great deal behind. They left spouses and children and grandchildren who miss them dearly. They left successful businesses and promising careers and a lifetime of dreams they will never have the chance to fulfill. But they left something else as well: a legacy of bravery and selflessness that will forever inspire America.”

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