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Johnstown Magazine

Flight 93

A fitting memorial comes together in Shanksville.

By John Berk

The overlook at the Flight 93 National Memorial offers a panoramic view of the entire memorial site, but one's focus is drawn to the boulder that marks the impact site and the grove of hemlock trees that forms its backdrop. It was here, at 10:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, that the brave passengers and crew of United Flight 93 - 40 brave Americans - won the battle with the four al Qaeda hijackers and saved countless lives.

It is nearly impossible to fully understand how ordinary citizens (not trained for combat) had the extraordinary courage and presence of mind to plan and engage and overcome the terrorists, who were trained for combat. More than likely they knew their actions would result in certain death for themselves, but would prevent the death of many, many others in and around the terrorists' target, which is believed to have been the US Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C.

Similar to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, anyone alive at the time will remember where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. It is etched forever in our memory and our experiences of that day have been told and re-told. However, although we all know some parts of the story, very few of us know the entire story of Flight 93. To obtain the full story, we must visit the newly-constructed Visitors Center. More about that later, but first; a brief recounting of the Flight 93 story for those who did not experience 9/11, or were too young to comprehend its magnitude.

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