The events of September 11, 2001, are forever etched into the hearts of the family members and loved ones of those who died, the nation and the world. The United States experienced the worst incident of terrorism in its history. The coordinated hijacking of four commercial airliners, the planned attack on symbolic targets, and the murder of innocent people were all tragic and shocking events. The extraordinary responses of individuals to the challenges they faced are inspiring and worthy of remembrance.
On that day, two airliners were deliberately flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, New York. A third plane, was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was delayed in its scheduled departure from Newark, New Jersey, en route to San Francisco, California. About 45 minutes into the flight, as the Boeing 757 was nearing Cleveland, Ohio, it abruptly changed course, heading southeast into the direction of Washington, D.C. Shortly before 10 a.m. it was observed flying low and erratically over southwestern Pennsylvania. At 10:03 a.m., the plane crashed at a cruising speed estimated at more than 500 miles per hour into a reclaimed strip mine at the edge of a wooded area in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Emergency responders, arriving at the scene minutes after the crash, found no survivors. All 33 passengers, 7 crew, and 4 terrorist hijackers were killed.
In the hours and days that followed, an astonishing story about what happened on board Flight 93 was revealed. When the terrorists took over the plane, passengers and crew were able to telephone family members, friends, and emergency dispatchers to report the hijacking. Through these conversations, those on board Flight 93 learned about the horrific events unfolding at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
As their phone conversations revealed, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 realized that their plane was also part of the planned attack. This realization led to a collective decision by the passengers and crew to stop the terrorists from achieving their goal of crashing the plane into another American landmark. The story of the heroic actions of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 later was confirmed when the contents of the many telephone conversations and the cockpit voice recorder were reviewed. Although the details of what took place on board the flight will never be fully known, all 40 of the passengers and crew are universally recognized as heroes.