I remember. On that Tuesday morning, I woke up for school and went to the kitchen. My father was there, staring at the television. I was eleven years old at that time. I had felt confusion, fear, and sadness.
United Airlines Flight 93 was one of four civilian airplanes that were hijacked by terrorists that day. Flight 93 had departed Newark, New Jersey and was supposed to arrive in San Francisco hours later. Instead, it crashed in a coal strip mine located less than ten miles from Shanksville.
Some speculate that the hijackers were planning on using Flight 93 by striking the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. But they failed.
Their plans failed because of the heroic actions of the passengers who stood up against the terrorists. Passengers fought back against the hijackers in an effort to regain control of the airplane., or at a minimum, keep the terrorists from crashing into the White House or the Capitol Building. As a result, Flight 93 crashed right outside Shanksville.
Volunteer firefighters from Shanksville immediately arrived at the scene to aid any survivors. A retired New York firefighter says,
[Shanksville residents are] Smalltown USA, but they have the biggest hearts.After the September 11 attacks, people from across the nation arrived in Shanksville to pay their respects to the passengers and crew of Flight 93. On the day that Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, at least 675 visitors came to the site.
Early today, people again gathered at the crash site to commemorate the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Bells rang forty times in honor of those passengers and crew. Currently, the visitor center is under construction, but a stone wall is already engraved with the names of all the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
Yesterday, the United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to each person who was killed by the terrorist attacks. For those who died on board Flight 93, there is a distinctive gold medal. This medal “features an image of the sandstone boulder that marks the area of the impact site, and the hemlock trees at the edge of the field.” The medal also describes the crash site as, “A common field one day, a field of honor forever.”
On the reverse side, forty stars representing the forty passengers and crew encircle the U.S. Capitol Building, perhaps to symbolize that the passengers and crew protected that structure. Placed between the stars and the Capitol Building, the following is inscribed:
We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.As I flipped through the channels on this anniversary, I saw various documentaries that are offered to reflect on this incident. These television programs primarily focused on the twin towers and the Pentagon, and repeated the devastating images of airplanes crashing into these structures. For me it was too much to see the graphic images over and over again. But one thing I noticed was that Shanksville and Flight 93 were rarely mentioned. The media focused too much on the graphic images, and gave little to no attention to Shanksville and the heroes aboard Flight 93.
Here are my questions to you: What do you remember from that day? Do you remember much media coverage over the crash in Shanksville? Or was most media coverage concerned about the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.?