Former President Bush and Vice President Harris were among those who gathered in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to honor the 40 brave souls who valiantly stopped four hijackers from crashing the plane into another target.
The passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 worked together to fight back against the hijackers and all were killed when the plane slammed into the field in Pennsylvania. It is not known where the hijackers intended to attack in Washington, but some have theorized they were targeting the U.S. Capitol.
Dignitaries and loved ones recalled the heroism of those on that plane and how their courage potentially saved more lives.
“The passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place,” Mr. Bush said. “Here, the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. Many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displaced in the skies above this field.”
Mr. Bush, at times nearly choking up, also called out domestic extremism, warning that they share the same disregard for human life as the terrorists who attacked the country on Sept. 11.
“They are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to comfort them,” he said.
Ms. Harris emphasized that the response to the terror attack shows that “unity is possible” in the United States.
“We were reminded, too, that unity is imperative in America. It is essential to our shared prosperity, our national security, and to our standing in the world,” she said, noting that Americans had political differences in 2021 as they did in 2001.
She also honored the heroism of Flight 93, saying their courage is a reflection of the American people.
“What happened on Flight 93 tells us so much. About the courage of those on board, who gave everything. About the resolve of the first responders, who risked everything. About the resilience of the American people,” she said.
The names of all 40 victims — 33 passengers and seven crew members — were read starting at 10:03 a.m. to mark 20 years since the flight crashed. Bells of remembrance were also rung in their memory.
A wreath was placed along the Wall of Names at the memorial site and family members were allowed to walk onto the crash site, which is reserved only for victims’ loved ones.
President Biden, who spent Saturday morning at a memorial ceremony at the site of the former World Trade Center towers in New York, arrived around 12:30 to attend the wreath ceremony.
Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, stood in front of the wreath with white and red roses and bowed their heads. They later walked the length of the field where the names of victims are etched, ultimately walking onto the field toward a boulder that marked where United 93 crashed.
Mr. Bush was joined by his wife Laura Bush and second gentleman Doug Emhof attended alongside Ms. Harris.
Other dignitaries who attended the event included former Vice President Dick Cheney, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, and Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican.