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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
Shanksville remembers
Sandy Dahl
Sandy Dahl: Thanked Shanksville for its support

The families of the victims of Flight 93 wanted the service to be sombre and dignified - they did not want politics creeping in - and they got what they wanted.

The Service of Remembrance in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, started with the pledge of allegiance from two local schoolchildren.


Freedom is something worth defending

Tom Ridge
This time last year they had been in class when the plane almost hit their school.

Sandy Dahl, wife of the captain of Flight 93, Jason Dahl, said the journey there had been hard but she knew she had to do it and she thanked the people of Shanksville for their help and support.

She said Flight 93 should be seen as a flight of courage, where bravery spread from the cockpit to the back of the plane.

She was followed by Tom Ridge, now the Director of Homeland Security. On 11 September last year he was the governor of Pennsylvania.

He described Flight 93 as the "first victory in the fight against terrorism".

Bell tolls

Despite the fact there were no survivors in this field, there were survivors, thousands of them, somewhere else, because the plane did not reach its intended target.

"The people of Flight 93 were armed with little more than an idea, but it was a big idea, freedom is something worth defending," he said.

President Bush
President Bush: Visibly shaken
Then at 1006, the exact time the plane hit the ground, a bell tolled, and the names of the 40 passengers and crew who died here were read out.

But the ceremony was not just for the families, it was also for the people of Shanksville, this tiny village with only 200 residents watched in horror as the World Trade Center and then the Pentagon were attacked.

Then a few minutes later, Flight 93 crashed into a remote field just yards from its main street.

Terry Butler had been working on his car when the plane flew overhead, he saw it begin to climb but then turn over before nose diving into the ground.

"When I lost sight of it, I waited maybe, it seemed like forever, but maybe two or three seconds and that's when it hit the ground.

"And then it shook the ground from where I was standing and then I saw the smoke, I heard maybe four, five, six booms, and then a mushroom cloud."

His head falls into his hands as begins to sob loudly.

Bush wreath

"Yes sir, never forget. It's right there everyday still for me, all I see is a plane."

A short time after the service, as Shanksville's dozen strong choir sang America the Brave, President Bush arrived by helicopter.

Mr Bush laid a wreath at the site and looked visibly shaken, holding the first lady's hand as he prayed for the dead.

Instead of making a public speech the president decided to privately meet the families, hugging them tightly and sharing their grief.

Mr Bush stayed for an hour before boarding a helicopter and heading towards New York.


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