“‘I remember telling the kids: ‘Don’t worry, we’re in Shanksville. We’re out in the boonies — nothing will happen here,” recalls J.P. O’Connor, an elementary-school teacher in the town, who was watching television news reports in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed that morning.
“‘And then the ceiling started shaking.’…
“Shanksville’s generosity stems partly from gratitude; many believe that Flight 93’s passengers made sure the plane missed the town. Residents are proud to be part of a very different 9/11 story.
“‘This is where the first victory against terrorism happened,’ O’Connor says as he flips through his folders of newspaper clippings about the attacks.”
“As visitors walked past the sloping black concrete walls of the Memorial Plaza, many stopped to take pictures of the crash site, marked by a boulder less than 100 yards away.
“Along the pathway nearest to the crash site, visitors left candles, flowers and drawings made by a child. One unsigned drawing read: ‘I am sorry you died, Uncle.’…
“Several people paused as they walked from the security checkpoint to the dedication ceremony site, where the plane passed over moments before impact, and stared at the boulder. Some whispered to their companions, ‘That’s it.’ Others wept.”
“[O]n Monday, when the crowds are gone, the families of the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed when the plane was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, will hold a private service to bury the unidentified remains of all of those who were on board.
“Those remains have been kept in an above-ground crypt for the last 10 years by the Somerset County coroner, Wallace Miller, awaiting a final resting place. They will be laid to rest in three steel coffins at the patch of earth — sodden now from endless rains — where the plane rammed into the ground.
“‘This will be our last funeral,’ Mr. Bingham said…
“‘I view it as the first — and last — reuniting of people who have a shared destiny and a now common history,’ Mr. White said.”
“One of the lessons of 9/11 is that evil is real, and so is courage.”
From Time’s “Portraits of Resilience” feature. Click the image to watch.