For the ninth year, relatives, officials and members of the Somerset County community gathered at a field near Shanksville today to remember the 40 men and women killed on United Flight 93.
About a thousand people gathered on a cool, clear day to pay respects to the 40 passengers and crew who fought back against terrorists on September 11, 2001.
First Lady Michelle Obama and her predecessor, Laura Bush, led the ceremony, which was filled with song, scripture and reflection. Mrs. Obama praised the passengers and crew, noting the group of strangers had never met each other before they decided to band together and push back against the terrorists.
"But in that awful moment, when the facts became clear and they were called to make an impossible choice, they all found the same resolve. The agreed to the same bold plan."
Mrs. Bush reflected on the day of the attacks, saying the United States saw its best in the courage of the passengers and first responders, as well as the prayers and thoughts of the rest of the country....
"…And again, as millions of Americans participated in blood drives, candlelight vigils and memorial services. Saying prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic."
Governor Rendell choked up when he told the crowd the Flight 93 victims had joined a long line of Pennsylvania heroes, stretching back to Ben Franklin.
"On behalf of 12.5 million Pennsylvanians, I want to say – we will never forget what they did above our skies. And we will always remember them."
Organizers hope to dedicate the first phase of a permanent Flight 93 memorial next year, on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.