"Are We Worthy" of 9/11 Heroes' Sacrifice, Asked at Plane Crash Site
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
As the names of the passengers and crew members were read, the Bells of Remembrance rang at 10:30 a.m., the exact time that Flight 93 fell to the ground 20 years ago.
Speakers at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, transmuted the pain of the fatal sacrifice of the 40 passengers and crew members into inspiration for unity in a nation, where President George W. Bush said “politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment”.
Of the four aircraft hijacked on September 11, 2001, United Airlines 93 is the only one that did not reach the intended target believed to be the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Embarking from Newark International Airport and heading to San Francisco International Airport, several on-board made cell phone calls to loved ones and learned about the suicide plane-attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.
These people, most strangers to each other, plotted and stormed the cockpit in an attempt to avert more massive-scale disaster.
“This group of random Americans . . . stood in for us all. . . . These Americans were brave and strong and united in a way that shocked the terrorists but should not surprise any of us. This is the nation we know,” said Bush, who was in office at the time.
During the struggle, the hijackers crashed the Boeing 757-222 into a field near Shanksville, which is 130 miles (210 kilometers) northwest of Washington, D.C. and 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The 44 onboard, including the four hijackers, perished.
Vice President Kamala Harris also pleaded for the rekindling of the unity shared in the aftermath of September 11:
“In a time of outright terror, we turned toward each other. In the face of a stranger, we saw a neighbor and a friend. That time reminded us of our strength, of our unity as Americans, and that it is possible in America.”
George Felt, the brother of Edward Felt, one of the passengers, spoke both from his love of country and his love for his brother:
“Are we worthy of their sacrifice?
“Are we worthy? Do we as individuals, communities and as a country conduct ourselves in a manner that would have made those who sacrificed so much proud of who we have become,” asked Felt, who is president of Families of Flight 93.
“Do we share the same willingness of sacrifice to others in little ways, to act for no other reason than to accomplish a noble goal, egoless and with no other motivation than to do what is right?
“Do we cherish the hard-earned freedom that we enjoy, secure every generation by being there willingly to stand toe by toe with everyone or any community willing to steal them away?
“The real question that we must all ask ourselves is: Have we as a country moved on and left the hard-earned lessons of September 11th behind?
“Have we become desensitized to what really happened that fateful morning?
“Have we diminished the courageous actions of these brave men and women, these heroes, whom we honor today at the Flight 93 Memorial as well as in New York City and at the Pentagon, relegating their stories to the history books?
“As a country, we shouldn’t seek to move on but rather dedicate ourselves to moving forward, honoring and remembering the sacrifices made on September 11th, the lessons we learned, remembering the names, the individuals and the collective actions of so many that day.
“Let us be worthy of the selfless sacrifices made. Let us remember who we became on September 12th. In the aftermath of September 11th, we saw beyond our divisions
so that, in unity, we could survive the devastation of the day.
“E pluribus unum. Out of many, we became one. That is the inspiration of September 11th. Whether it was in the air or on the ground that morning, heroism was recorded, history was made and the course of our lives was changed forever.
“The path we follow is up to us. Let us strive to be worthy of those we lost that morning, our 40 heroes, our loved ones, and the thousands of others whose lives were extinguished that day in the aftermath of September 11th.
“E pluribus unum.”
Felt ended his speech with the motto which is inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States. The phrase represents the concept of one union borne out of the original 13 colonies.