Hundreds gather in field to honor Flight 93

September 11, 2008 8:59:08 AM PDT
The 40 passengers and crew killed seven years ago when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in rural western Pennsylvania were remembered Wednesday as ordinary people who did the extraordinary in bringing down the plane short of its target. Under cloudy skies and a whipping wind - a stark contrast to the calm, sunny weather of Sept. 11, 2001 - family members and government officials gathered in an open field as hundreds of spectators looked on. Among those honoring the victims was Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The names of the victims were read aloud and bells tolled for each.

"Forty ordinary people decided to do the extraordinary, that they would give their lives so others could live," said Kenneth Wainstein, homeland security adviser to President Bush. "It's for all of us here today to carry that flame going forward and keep it burning brightly."

McCain and his wife, Cindy, made their way through a crowd of family members and officials, shaking hands and chatting with some. He, a family member of a passenger on the plane and others laid several wreaths near a large wooden cross that is part of a temporary memorial.

No one should forget the heroism of that day, McCain said. The passengers and crew "understood the threat and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives," he said.

McCain ill allow visitors to get close to the crash site on a plaza that extends along the edge of it. A ceremonial wall and drop-off will separate visitors from the crash site.

On the road into the site on Thursday, nearly every house had an American flag, some of them at half staff.

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