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Pennsylvania – 9/11/02

September 11, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: And that field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More than 5000 people came in chilly weather there this morning. That’s where Flight 93 crashed, killing 40 passengers and crewmembers on the morning of last September 11.

(Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” playing )

SANDY DAHL, Wife of Captain Jason Dahl: If we learn nothing else, our lives are short and there is no time for hate. The pride that I feel for my husband, Jason, and the crew and passengers of Flight 93 is beyond measure. The world is a better place for having them for such a brief time. Adversity does not build character; adversity reveals character. With this said, our loved ones were prepared in life to meet the challenges of September 11. Each possessed the character needed to help one another fight against evil on that day that shocked America. In the air, a wave of courage made its way from the cockpit to the rear of the aircraft and back again, with all persevering to the end. Unknown to one another, they supported each other in the fight of their lives. And no one was alone.

Flight 93 was an extraordinary gathering of individuals. We shall grieve that they died, but we shall rejoice that they lived. For all of our loved ones who perished here in Shanksville, we can depart with the gift of hope– hope for our children, hope for our future, and hope for our everlasting freedom– hope that carries us through until tomorrow, when the clouds will part and the sun will shine in our lives again. We honor the crew and passengers on Flight 93 for their selfless sacrifice. Their legacy gives us the hope to know that we do have hope for tomorrow. After September 11, we know there is no shortage of angels. May God bless us. Thank you. (Applause)

MURIEL BORZA, Sister of Deora Bodley; Good morning, everyone. My name is Muriel. I’m 11 years old, and I lost my sister, Deora, on Flight 93. I miss her very much. She taught me a lot of things, but most of all she taught me to be kind to other people and animals. I have a wish that can fulfill in memory of those who perished on September 11. I ask for one minute of peace worldwide today, September 11, 2002. During this period, people can make a pledge to do a good deed that will help mankind in some small way, even if it is a hug, kiss, smile, or wave; a prayer, or just silent thought of those they love. It would make people feel good, and the remembrance of our loved ones will not be forgotten. This is the start. Let’s have one minute of peace.

(Applause)

MAN: (Reading names)

(Bell tolls)

SPOKESMAN: And now, ladies and gentlemen, Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker. (Applause )

GOV. MARK SCHWEIKER: When many of us awoke on September 11, America was a country of peace; times were good; we had not known war in quite some time. Then, just like that, our peace was shattered by cowards who sought to destroy our way of life. Oh, they thought we were weak. They thought we would simply stand aside. Early on the morning of September 11 in the skies above us they got their answer. Americans will always rise to the challenge. Americans will always fight for freedom. And Americans will never surrender our way of life. (Applause )

Today I look at a battlefield. It is unlike other battlefields in our nation’s history because that day, America’s first defenders weren’t battle-tested. They weren’t even armed. They were ordinary Americans who were off to work or to visit family. And in an instant, they became one of our most heralded military units in our nation’s rich history. (Applause)

Some say that America’s war against terror really began when our armed forces landed in Afghanistan last October, but we know better. Those of us here today know better. It was here that freedom took its first stand, and that is why we come here to remember 40 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. (Applause)

They decided their fate wasn’t in the hands of terrorists, it was in their own. But, as I stand here today, I continue to feel the indomitable spirit of America’s Flight 93 patriots, and feel it in my heart, as well as see it in your eyes. So to all assembled, and perhaps to a world: Make no mistake, my grieving families; they are more than remembered, they are forceful. They are with us, and they are proud. God bless you all. ( Applause )

SPOKESMAN: Homeland Security advisor, Governor Tom Ridge. (Applause)

TOM RIDGE: We gather with hearts heavy with grief, but spirits lifted with pride. We smile at memories of the lives lived to the fullest. We rage over lives extinguished so cruelly and so callously. Your loved ones did not expect to serve the cause of freedom on that Tuesday morning, but serve it they did. Faced with the most frightening circumstances one could possibly imagine, they met the challenge like citizen soldiers, like Americans. Ordered by the terrorists to be quiet and remain calm and their s would be spared, they said no. The hijackers weren’t playing by the rules, and this time, neither would your loved ones.

The terrorists were right to fear an uprising. The passengers and crew did whatever they humanly could– boil water, phone the authorities, and ultimately rush the cockpit to foil the attack. The result was summed up by one of the messages left on the temporary memorial, a very simple message. “Thank you for saving my life.”

These 40 amazing, extraordinary people had character in abundance. “Everyday heroes?”, You might ask. No, they were heroes every single day. These were men and women who were well-practiced in the art of making a difference, whether it was restoring a shelter for battered women, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, tutoring elementary schoolchildren, becoming an activist for the disabled, or planning a humanitarian sabbatical to India. One crewmember even used to save leftover airline meals to feed the needy. Heroes every single day, because they brought love and joy to so many.

And as a spouse and a father myself, I can only imagine the pain their deaths have caused you, a pain that will be relived not just every anniversary, but every single day. Your loved ones, America’s 21st century patriots, were armed with little more than an idea, but it was a big idea: Freedom is something worth defending. (Cheers and applause) The enemies of America may not know it yet, but that is our secret weapon, too. (Applause) Thank you, and God bless America. (Gun salute)

(Trumpet playing “Taps” )

(cheers and applause)

SINGING: God bless America land that I love Stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam God bless America, my home sweet home God bless America, my home sweet home. (Applause)