Heroes 'struck first blow in war on terrorism'
Published 12/09/2011 | 05:00
In a field outside the tiny town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, families of the 40 passengers and crew who died on United Flight 93 stood together on hallowed ground to remember their loved ones as heroes.
In a sombre ceremony, they took turns to read aloud the names of their relatives, each one followed by the tolling of bells. The victims were remembered in alphabetical order, from Christian Adams, a German wine merchant, to flight purser Deborah Jacobs Welsh, to Toshiya Kuge of Osaka, Japan, whose mother uttered his name.
The memorial service was held at the Wall of Names, a series of 40 polished marble slabs inscribed with the details of the victims, that leads along the plane's final flight path towards the crash site in a nearby wildflower meadow.
Gordon Felt, brother of passenger Edward Porter Felt (41), a computer engineer, told other relatives: "We lost too much 10 years ago. Let us never forget the horror of 9/11, but let us cherish the memory of those we lost.
"We cannot escape the painful reality of history but we can choose to be inspired by that reality. This site will forever stand as a tribute to 40 individuals who chose, under most horrific conditions, to stand and fight."
Flight 93 crashed after those on board, some alerted by phone calls from family about the New York attacks, decided to wrest control of their plane from four hijackers. Their heroism prevented it crashing into the US Capitol in Washington.
Hundreds of relatives gathered for the service along with emergency workers who had rushed to the scene 10 years ago. They were joined by several thousand others.
At 10.03am, the time the Boeing 757 crashed into the ground at nearly 600mph, they paused in silence to reflect.
Governor Tom Corbett said the spot where they stood had been compared with other great sites like the Alamo and Gettysburg, and the passengers on Flight 93 had "charted a new course, set a new standard for American bravery".
He said: "Their uprising marked the moment in history when Americans showed what makes us different. We know there are things more important than our own lives -- chief among them freedom."
Later in the day, US President Barack Obama arrived to lay a wreath and to meet relatives of the dead. He was applauded and met with chants of "USA, USA".
The $60m (€43.9m) national memorial at the crash site, which was dedicated on Saturday, has already become a focal point for national pride as well as remembrance.
At the dedication ceremony former president George W Bush said: "What happened above this Pennsylvania field ranks among the most courageous acts in American history." (© Daily Telegraph, London)