Trump marks 9/11 anniversary, remembers crew and passengers of Flight 93
On a solemn, gray Tuesday morning in a rural Somerset County field where United Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, people cheered, wooed and whistled as President Donald Trump was introduced at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
Many gave him a standing ovation in a ceremony mostly marked with tears and memories for 40 crew members and passengers who died fighting back against terrorists who hijacked the plane headed from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco on 9/11.
Trump spoke of their heroic actions and how America shoulders the pain that the families still feel 17 years later.
“We carry your great, great sorrow. Your tears are not shed alone,” the president said. “We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of danger.”
During his remarks, which lasted for about 15 minutes and 30 seconds, Trump spoke of what “the 40” did in the 35 minutes between when the plane was hijacked and when it crashed.
“They boarded the plane as strangers and they entered eternity forever as true heroes,” he said.
“This field is now a monument to American defiance,” Trump said of the site near Shanksville.
He said the national memorial that stands there now serves as a message to the world that “America will never, ever submit to tyranny.”
Cheers erupted from the crowd.
Several people wore “Make America Great Again” hats that Trump has made famous. Many waved American flags. Some wore Trump T-shirts. One man draped a Trump flag around his shoulders.
“As commander in chief, I will always do everything in my power to prevent terrorists from striking American soil,” Trump said.
About 30 United and American Airlines pilots and flight attendants from all over the country — Houston, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and elsewhere — attended the ceremony to pay their respects. A group has come every year since 2001, said Trey Carr, a flight attendant based in El Paso, Texas. Some crew members knew the deceased, he said.
“I think we made a vow that we would never forget and we would honor them as heroes,” said Ken Diaz, Association of Flight Attendants United chapter president.
He saw the crew of United Flight 93 in Newark, N.J., before the plane departed the morning of 9/11. Diaz also lost a cousin, Angel Pena, in the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.
Cindy Townsend, of Apollo, arrived Tuesday at the Flight 93 grounds around 8:30 a.m., just as state police were closing the road. She picked up three American and United crew members who were also blocked from entering the national memorial.
“My heart breaks for them, really,” Townsend said.
“I’m sad that we’re not in there for the families,” said Jennifer Woodburn, a flight attendant based in San Francisco. She has come to the Flight 93 memorial for the past five years and said that she wants families to know that their loved ones are not forgotten.
Other speakers included former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, Gov. Tom Wolf, Gordon Felt, President of Families of Flight 93, and Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The 93-foot tall Tower of Voices was dedicated on Sunday , it includes 40 wind chimes that represent the voices of 40 passengers and crew members who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed into a field during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.