Relatives of two people killed in the crash of United Flight 93 during the 9/11 attacks said Saturday they hope to keep the memory of the 40 passengers and crew alive for another generation.
About 120 visitors gathered at the Flight 93 memorial in western Pennsylvania to hear Ken Nacke and Ed Root tell the story of their loved ones, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Nacke's brother, Louis Nacke, 42, was a passenger on the flight on Sept. 11, 2001. Root's cousin, Lorraine Grace Bay, 58, was a flight attendant.
Nacke and Root, inaugural participants in a summer speakers series, said their journey to Shanksville over the Memorial Day weekend was another opportunity to tell how ordinary people brought together by chance for what should have been a cross-country flight died American heroes.
That same morning hijackers crashed three other passenger airliners into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.
"We need to honor the heroes of Flight 93 because who knows what the country would look like today if that flight had hit its intended target," said Nacke, a homicide detective in Baltimore.
Nacke spoke of his brother's role as a protector to his younger siblings and of his generosity to others.
"Anytime he saw anyone panhandling on a street corner, he'd give them a couple of dollars. He just had a big heart," Nacke said.
Root said his cousin "was the cool big sister I never had," the "card lady," who always remembered friends and family members with a birthday card.
"Even after Sept. 11, people received cards she'd mailed on her way to the airport that day," Root said. He and Bay's husband found cards in her closet purchased months in advance labeled for specific family members, he said.
Jim Silver — who came from Canonsburg to the memorial with his sons, 13-year-old Ryan and 17-year-old Jim Jr. — said it was a chance to personally connect with history.
"Every teacher every year has a different take on how they want to teach it. Each tackles it his or her own way. This is different," he said.
United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an abandoned strip mine in Shanksville after being hijacked. The passengers and crew died as they crashed the plane while fighting for control with the hijackers.
The final piece of the memorial, a Tower of Voice with 40 wind chimes, is scheduled to be dedicated next year, and Nacke said it would add to their stories.
"What my mom thinks is it's kind of fitting. When the wind blows you hear this music, you'll hear their voices," he said.