SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — President Obama and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, placed a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Sunday, arriving at the site to pay respects to the 40 passengers and crew who died a decade ago Sunday.
The president and Mrs. Obama visited the Wall of Names, where each of the 40 marble slabs is inscribed with the name of someone killed in the crash of United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.
Some 3,000 people, including thousands of regular citizens, were gathered at the memorial as Mr. Obama walked to a security barricade to shake hands. Others took his photo, and sections of the crowd chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
One man called out, “Thanks for getting bin Laden!” a reference to the death of Osama bin Laden, killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan earlier this year.
Jaleel Dyson, 18, came to the memorial to honor the victims but was excited to shake the president’s hand and get a picture of him on his smartphone.
Mr. Dyson, who is from Washington but attends college in the area, said he also attended the president’s inauguration in January 2009. He said the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks was more important.
“I think it’s just important that the president shows his support for the families that lost loved ones,” he said.
The visit comes as the families of the 40 passengers and crew were praised for helping to inspire a new generation of Americans while keeping the memories of their loved ones’ dedication and courage burning brightly.
At a ceremony marking a decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, nearly 5,000 people listened as the names of the passengers and crew who were killed were read aloud while bells tolled. Afterward, a choir sang as those in the crowd — including family members, first responders and politicians — listened intently.
“Over the past 10 years we have heard this place compared to many other places” including the Alamo and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said at the newly dedicated national park that marks the site where Flight 93 crashed. “But the truth is that this place is like no other because the deeds aboard Flight 93 were like no other.”
Mr. Corbett said the victims “charted a new course, set a new standard for American bravery.”
Sunday’s memorial service at the Flight 93 memorial, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, was being held in concert with ceremonies in New York and Washington, where other hijacked jets crashed into both towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first head of homeland security, thanked those who came to the memorial for Sunday’s service.
“I think your presence today means almost as much to the families, perhaps as much as the memorial itself,” Mr. Ridge said. “Your very presence is a powerful message of comfort and understanding and love.”
The families then turned and gave the visitors a standing ovation.