When someone thinks about September 11th, what comes to mind? The Twin Towers? The Pentagon? Or maybe United Flight 93? All of these events contribute to a day that will forever live in infamy. Perhaps they might inspire hope from heroic actions and brave people.
Gabby Cucci, a UNCG student, was a year old when the events of 9/11 occurred: “…my dad was supposed to work in the Trade Center, but he turned the job down…the plane crashed a week later,” she said. Bailey McDuffie, a senior at UNCG, was two years old and remembered her family panicking after hearing the news: “I remember everyone being scared…my dad was really upset,” she explained. Years later, both expressed how they were familiar with the 9/11 events except for United Flight 93.
Most individuals picture the notorious image of The World Trade Center burning; however, not many remember United Flight 93. Forty passengers were on the flight, but like the other hijacked flights, there were no survivors. The aircraft departed from the gate at 8:00 am and took off around 8:42 am. Once in the air, the pilots received warning messages about possible hijacks. Around the same time, American Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. For 46 minutes, everything seemed normal, but at 9:28 am, the hijacking commenced. The hijackers forced all of the passengers to move to the back of the plane. To gain control of the cockpit, the men attacked both pilots and a flight attendant. They were left on the floor dead or severely injured.
During the last 30 minutes, the passengers made a total of 37 calls. Tom Burnett phoned his wife, who informed him of the other related attacks. He assured her by saying, “Don’t worry, we’re going to do something.” Sandra Bradshaw contacted the United Airlines maintenance facility. Mark Bingham called his mom; Jeremy Glick called his wife; CeeCee Lyles called her husband; Marion Britton called her friend; Lauren Grandcolas called her husband, but he missed her call. Elizabeth Wainio ended her four-and-a-half-minute conversation with her stepmother by saying, “I have to go. They’re breaking into the cockpit. I love you.” At 9:50 am, Bradshaw told her husband that she was boiling water to use against the hijackers. Todd Beamer tried to reach his wife. His call, unfortunately, was redirected to a phone operator, Lisa Jefferson. During the last few minutes, Beamer asked her, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.”
All of the passengers decided to take action, in an attempt to get back control of the plane, unlike the other hijacked flights. At 9:57 am, the revolt took place. At this point, the Twin Towers and Pentagon were already hit. Jefferson recalls that Beamer’s last words were the following: “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” The passengers stormed to the front of the plane and used a food cart to break down the door to the cockpit. There was a struggle between the passengers and hijackers for six minutes. At 10:03 am, the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Officials determined that the aircraft hit the ground at 563 mph, leaving behind a massive crater.
In the place of the crash site, there is now a memorial that people can visit. Former Vice President, Dick Cheney, stated, “I think an act of heroism just took place on that plane.” The pilots, flight attendants, and passengers were all awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. One side of the medal honors each of the victims with 40 stars. The other side of the medal very fittingly states, “A common field one day, a field of honor forever”.