Families of Flight 93 Passengers Remember 9/11 in Emotional 20th Anniversary Ceremony

by Jennifer Shea
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

At 9:45 a.m. ET, an emotional ceremony will kick off in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at the Memorial Plaza there. It will feature roughly 500 family members of the 40 brave passengers of Flight 93. That’s the airplane that crashed in an empty field on 9/11 after its cabin staged a counterattack against the hijackers barricaded in the cockpit.

On the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the National Park Service is hosting the special event. It will also include visitors such as President Joe Biden, former President George W. Bush, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Vice President Kamala Harris.

At 10:03 a.m., the moment the plane crashed into the field, attendees will hear the names of the passengers read aloud. Then the Bells of Remembrance will ring in their honor. After a wreath-laying at the Wall of Names, the family members will proceed out to the crash site.

Remembrance Ceremony Honors Passengers for Heroic Actions

The Flight 93 Memorial site will be closed to the public during the remembrance event. At 3 p.m., the public is invited to stop by the hour-long Memorial Tribute Concert, courtesy of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, at the Memorial Plaza.

“The families of Flight 93 look forward to gathering this year on the 20th anniversary of September 11th to honor our loved ones and their heroic actions. We are grateful to the National Park Service for their efforts to allow this to be done in a safe and respectful manner with technology in place to assure that the ceremony is accessible to all,” Gordon Felt, brother to passenger Edward Porter Felt, said in a press release.

A livestream of the event will be available on the Flight 93 Memorial’s Facebook page.

Flight 93 Passengers and Crew Fought Back

Flight 93 departed from Newark, New Jersey at 8:42 a.m. After 9 a.m., four al Qaeda terrorists armed with box cutters and knives stormed the cabin. They then reset the plane’s autopilot and redirected it back east. The hijackers were likely aiming for the White House, the Capitol, Camp David or a nuclear power plant along the Eastern seaboard, per History.com.

But the passengers and crew of Flight 93 decided not to listen to the terrorists. The latter had warned them there was a bomb on the plane.

Among them was Sandy Bradshaw, 38, a flight attendant who first called United Airlines to describe the al Qaeda terrorists. Then she called her husband, who was at home with her two toddlers and teenage stepdaughter. The North Carolina native reported that the passengers were boiling water to toss on the hijackers. Her last words to her husband were that everyone was running up to first-class now.

Edward Porter Felt was also there. He was a computer engineer who loved the outdoors and had been awarded two patents in encryption technology. Felt wound up on the flight bound for San Francisco on a last-minute business trip. Before the plane crashed, he dialed 911 on his cell phone and reported a hijacking in progress.

A full list of the Flight 93 passengers and crew is available here.