- Associated Press - Monday, August 23, 2010

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. | In a bipartisan show of support involving the first lady and her predecessor, Michelle Obama will join former first lady Laura Bush in ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of the United Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mrs. Bush had previously confirmed her participation, saying we “must never forget the brave sacrifice of these extraordinary men and women.”

Passengers aboard the flight are believed to have struggled with its hijackers before the jet crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa., killing all aboard. The three other planes in the attack crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

Mrs. Obama’s press office confirmed her role as the first lady vacationed with her family on Martha’s Vineyard.


“Their show of support honors the lives and memories of these 40 heroes and everyone we lost on September 11th,” said Neil Mulholland, head of the National Park Foundation. The group is helping build a memorial at the Shanksville site.

President Obama continues to face controversy over plans to construct an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the ground zero site in Lower Manhattan, after the president said Muslims have a right to exercise their religious freedom. Critics say the site is insensitive to the families who lost loved ones in the terror strike carried out by a group of radical Muslims.

The Manhattan site was the scene of demonstrations both for and against the project over the weekend.

United Flight 93 was headed from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when hijackers seized control. Forty passengers and crew were killed in the crash in the Pennsylvania countryside.

Construction on a permanent memorial to the victims is under way. Its first phase is expected to be dedicated in time for next year’s 10th anniversary of the crash.

The event will be the first time Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush have appeared together in public since Mr. Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

Organizers say the two first ladies will be keynote speakers at the event. Other dignitaries slated to attend include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

“I am proud to be a part of the ceremony and public gathering in Shanksville on September 11 to commemorate the courageous acts of those on board Flight 93,” Mrs. Bush said.