Trump serves as con­soler-in-chief

Pres­i­dent hon­ors vic­tims of crashed 9/11 flight who ‘at­tacked the en­emy’

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - David Jack­son and Su­san Miller

WASH­ING­TON – Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump paid trib­ute Tues­day to the peo­ple lost on 9/11, giv­ing spe­cial honor to pas­sen­gers who charged the cock­pit of their plane to stop hi­jack­ers from at­tack­ing Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

“They at­tacked the en­emy,” Trump said on the Penn­syl­va­nia field where United Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. “They fought un­til the very end. And they stopped the forces of ter­ror and de­feated this wicked, hor­ri­ble, evil plan.”

Also prais­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary, Trump vowed to pro­tect the na­tion against what he called “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.”

As bells tolled and Amer­i­cans stood in si­lence across the coun­try, the pres­i­dent and first lady Me­la­nia Trump vis­ited the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial near Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia.

The cer­e­mony came two days af­ter the ded­i­ca­tion of a Tower of Voices. Built at 93 feet, the tower fea­tures 40 wind chimes, each rep­re­sent­ing a pas­sen­ger or crew mem­ber on the doomed flight.

As at cer­e­monies at the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City and at the Pen­tagon out­side Wash­ing­ton, D.C., mourn­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia read off the names of the dead as bells tolled and vis­i­tors prayed.

As Trump flew aboard Air Force One to Penn­syl­va­nia, White House staff mem­bers gath­ered on the lawn at 8:46 a.m., the minute the first hi­jacked plane struck a tower of the World Trade Cen­ter.

Re­fer­ring to the dead in New York City and at the Pen­tagon as well as Penn­syl­va­nia, Trump said, “We honor their sac­ri­fice by pledg­ing to never flinch in the face of evil and to do what­ever it takes to keep Amer­ica safe.”

The pres­i­dent de­voted most of his re­marks to the pas­sen­gers of Flight 93.

Af­ter hi­jack­ers flew planes into the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­tagon, 40 pas­sen­gers and crew aboard Flight 93 – be­lieved to be headed to the U.S. Capi­tol or the White House – or­ga­nized a charge into the cock­pit to con­front their cap­tors.

Amid the strug­gle, which started with the phrase “Let’s roll,” the plane crashed into a field in Som­er­set County, north of Shanksville.

It was “the mo­ment when Amer­ica fought back,” Trump said, and the Flight 93 pas­sen­gers “joined the im­mor­tal ranks of Amer­i­can he­roes.”

Trump also told sto­ries about in­di­vid­ual pas­sen­gers and their loved ones: the flight at­ten­dant who called her hus­band and said they were pre­par­ing to throw hot wa­ter on the hi­jack­ers; a man who told his wife “Stay on the line” be­cause “I’ll be back”; pas­sen­gers who re­cited the Lord’s Prayer; a woman who re­cov­ered her hus­band’s wed­ding ring 21⁄2 months af­ter the at­tack.

“This field is now a mon­u­ment to Amer­i­can de­fi­ance,” Trump said. “This memo­rial is now a mes­sage to the world: Amer­ica will never, ever sub­mit to tyranny.”

Nearly 5.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have en­listed in the armed forces since 9/11, Trump said, and “nearly 7,000 ser­vice mem­bers have died fac­ing down the men­ace of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.”

Some law­mak­ers have ob­jected to Trump’s use of the phrase “rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism,” say­ing it can be seen as blam­ing all Mus­lims. Trump did not use the phrase dur­ing a 9/11 event last year at the Pen­tagon.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence at­tended a cer­e­mony at the Pen­tagon, say­ing he wanted to “pay a debt of honor and re­mem­brance.” He said the na­tion must “re­main ever vig­i­lant in de­fense of our na­tion.”

Trump be­gan the 9/11 an­niver­sary day with tweets un­der­scor­ing his com­plaints about the FBI, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion.

Trump also tweeted about the 17th an­niver­sary of 9/11, in­clud­ing a post prais­ing then-New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani – now one of his at­tor­neys in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump join the Sept. 11 Flight 93 memo­rial ser­vice in Shanksville, Pa. Cer­e­monies also were held at the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City and the Pen­tagon out­side Wash­ing­ton.

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