When United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pa. at 10:06, on Sept. 11, 2001, it marked the opening strike by America in the War On Terror.
Flight 93 was the fourth plane used by the Islamic terrorists in a series of coordinated attacks launched that morning. As a result of passengers fighting hijackers for control of the airliner, it was the only plane that failed to reach its target, thought to be Washington, D.C.
When Todd Beamer, a passenger, placed a credit card call through a phone located on the back of the plane he told the operator that some of the plane's passengers were planning to attack the hijackers and take control of the aircraft. Beamer's last audible words were "Are you guys ready? Let's roll."
Last Saturday, another tribute to Flight 93 was launched when the USS Somerset, a naval transport dock warship, was formally put into service in Philadelphia.
"What we commemorate is not that war or an attack on America," said Sen. Pat Toomey at the ceremony. "We commemorate the day America began to fight back."
Capt. Thomas Dearborn, the Somerset's commanding officer, supplied another moving moment when his crew manned the ship.
"Somerset, let's roll," Dearborn said, echoing Todd Beamer's famous rallying cry on 9/11/01.
A visit to Shanksville is an emotional experience. Before the national park was dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the only memorial was a roadside shed and parking area near the crash site that held a guest register and scrapbooks of photos and news clips. Visitors would attach hats, photos, poems, homemade signs, patriotic bumper stickers and personal messages to a hurricane fence or tape them to rocks.
Now, with the USS Somerset, we have impressive tributes to the victims on land and on the sea. Dave Whelan, a cousin of Flight 93 passenger Richard Guadagno, stated at last week's launch of the USS Somerset that it embodies America's fighting spirit. He said that this is our country and that the ship and the people on it will be prepared to do whatever they have to do.
His wife Carol added that it not only honors both family members and the heroes of Flight 93 but it shows that we as a country won't forget. She's hoping that 50 years from now when her grandson goes to Shanksville, he will still remember what happened that day.
By Jim Zbick