On September 11, 2001, three hijacked aircraft had already hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when a fourth airliner, United Airlines Flight 93, was hijacked and turned towards Washington, DC. Unlike the passengers on the other aircraft, those on board Flight 93 learned of what was happening that day. They knew that their plane was part of a massive attack on the United States. And they decided to fight back. They rushed forward in an attempt to retake the cockpit, struggling with the hijackers who had taken control of the plane. And when the terrorists realized that the passengers would soon regain control, the hijacker flying the plane deliberately crashed it into the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing the forty passengers and crew. Flight 93 was only 20 minutes from Washington, DC.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is a beautiful, quiet place that belies the horrors of that day. As you walk toward the wall of names, you pass niches in the wall where tokens of remembrance and respect have been left by visitors: a coin, a badge, a flower, a patch. These mementos are periodically collected by the Memorial staff and will be cataloged and displayed in the Visitor Center. It is also a solemn place, where a visitor can come to realize fully the sacrifice that those forty people made that day to defend their country. They taught us all that we must no longer sit idly in the face of terror. We all have the power to stand and fight, even if we give our own lives in the process.

These photos were taken on two different visits to the Memorial. The Visitor Center opened to the public yesterday.

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A large rock marks the point where Flight 93 hit the ground.

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