After a busy weekend at my reunion in Hershey, I was weary as we set out for home. I was also tired of fighting the trucks and construction on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. So, we got off at the Breezewood exit and headed west on U.S. Route 30.
I knew the National Flight 93 Memorial was in that direction, but I did not expect it to be just seven miles off the highway. Of course, we went in to see it. We were glad that so many young people with their children visiting. As long as that happens, the events will not be forgotten.
It was a beautiful day just like the September 11, 2001 day when four groups of terrorists set off to attack the United States. They took civilian planes, hijacked them and turned them into weapons.
Two planes were flown into the towers of New York’s World Trade Center. One was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. 2956 people lost their lives. Thousands more were injured.
Flight 93 left from Newark, New Jersey heading towards San Francisco when it was hjacked and turned around towards Washington. It is believed the terrorists planned to fly into the U.S. Capitol building.
There were forty crew and passengers other than the hijackers aboard. The pilot and copilot were killed or injured and the passengers herded into the back of the plane. There, the passengers heard about the attacks that had already taken place through phone calls placed by or to loved ones. Transcripts of many of the phone calls are still available.
A number of the passengers decided to rush the cockpit to take back control of the plane. In the melee, the terrorists decided to crash the plane into the Pennsylvania farm field below. All aboard died, but who can say how many more lives were saved.
Click on photos to enlarge.
I do not believe the courage of the passengers is unique to the United States; people will rise up to defend themselves and those they love. But Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda and inspiration for the hijackers, did misread the United States as many have done before him. He believed the nation to be much weaker than was generally thought [a belief that exists in many parts of the world]. He had seen the U.S. withdraw from Vietnam. He had seen the U.S. withdraw from Lebanon after the bombing of a Marine barracks there. He had seen the U.S. withdraw from Somalia after 18 servicemen were killed there. As with others, he did not understand such events were not perceived to be attacks on the U.S. way of life itself. He did not understand the core beliefs of a nation created from the wilderness by immigrants. As it was for others, it was a fatal mistake.
Inside the Visitors’ Center, one is guided through the events. The people involved are presented as real people, not characters in a television or movie. Near the exit, there is a box of tissues for those who need them to dry their tears.
Date of our visit: 16 Oct 22