On September 11, 2001, the United States of America fell victim to terrorists who hijacked four airplanes. United Flight 93 is the only plane that did not hit its intended target, the United States Capitol. Forty ordinary people sacrificed their lives when they supposedly overtook the four hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 93. At 8:42 a.m., the 33 passengers and seven crew members departed from Newark as they began their flight to San Francisco. Sadly, these people had no idea that they only had 81 minutes to live before becoming victims of the worst act of terrorism in American history. During these 81 minutes, the forty passengers supposedly rallied together and prevented the plane from crashing into the United States Capitol.
United Flight 93 was one of four planes hijacked by Al-Qaida affiliated terrorists. Unlike the other three hijacked planes, Flight 93 did not hit its intended target. The passengers on this flight had access to internet-connected devices and Airfones, so they learned about the fate of the passengers who were on the planes that struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Realizing that they would encounter the same fate, the passengers united and decided to take matters into their own hands. From telephone conversations and cockpit recordings, it is evident that the passengers attempted to overtake the plane using the limited resources at their disposal. One of these important resources was boiling water. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, informed her husband during a phone call that she was going to boil water to throw at the hijackers. In his final conversation with wife, passenger Jeremy Glick, explained that many of the men on the flight were larger than the hijackers. For this reason, Glick believed that the passengers had the physical strength to overpower the hijackers. Additionally, passenger Todd Beamer tried to make several calls to his wife, but he kept getting the answering machine. In desperation, Todd dialed “0” and reached an operator. Todd prayed with this operator, and then he informed her that the passengers were not going to go down without a fight. The operator said that she heard Todd tell the other passengers, “Let’s roll.” Then, the phone went dead. Traveling at 563 miles per hour, Flight 93 crashed in a field outside of Stoystown, Pennsylvania several minutes later at 10:03 a.m.
Since the passengers exhibited exemplary heroism, efforts to develop an official memorial became a top priority for Americans. In the meantime, local residents erected a chicken wire fence on a quiet hillside that overlooked the crash site. This temporary yet powerful memorial in the middle of rural Pennsylvania attracted people from all across the globe who came to pay their respects. This temporary memorial remained for ten years until the National Parks Service completed the first phase of the official United Flight 93 Memorial on September 10, 2011.
In 2002, Congress passed the Flight 93 National Memorial Act and allocated $50,000,000 for the construction of the memorial. In 2005, Paul and Milena Murdoch won the international design competition judged by government officials, community members, and the victims’ families. Their design completely transformed the field from an abandoned coalmine to a serene memorial park. The most iconic element of the Murdoch’s design is the memorial wall, which includes a marble slate for each passenger. There is a light at the base of each marble slate, which illuminates the names at night and symbolizes that light can persist even in the darkest times. This memorial provides a quiet place to honor the heroes of Flight 93.
The memorial wall located near the crash site lists the names of the victims. If you are interested in learning more about the victims, please read the captions next to the pictures below this paragraph. The pictures are in the same order as the names appear on the memorial wall.