VP Pence leads trib­ute to vic­tims

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page - By Ju­lian Routh

Yachiyo Kuge walks away from the Wall of Names af­ter see­ing her son’s name Wed­nes­day in Stony­creek, Som­er­set County. Her son Toshiya Kuge, from Osaka, Ja­pan, was 20 and was re­turn­ing home at the time of the Flight 93 crash. More cov­er­age of the 18th an­niver­sary of Flight 93 and the at­tacks in New York City and at the Pen­tagon in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., on

STONY­CREEK, Pa. — Not far from where Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence stood Wed­nes­day morn­ing at the Flight 93 Na­tional Me­mo­rial stands its 93-foot-tall Tower of Voices, where wind chimes of dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal notes sym­bol­ize each of the 40 in­di­vid­u­als who thwarted one of the at­tacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When played to­gether, the notes form a per­fect harmony, just as in their fi­nal mo­ments, the men and women of Flight 93 worked in con­cert to de­fend our na­tion, to de­fend our Capi­tol and de­fend our way of life,” Mr. Pence said.

Mark­ing the 18th an­niver­sary of the 2001 ter­ror at­tacks, the vice pres­i­dent de­liv­ered re­marks at the Flight 93 me­mo­rial, pay­ing trib­ute to the pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers who rose up against the plane’s hi­jack­ers and “met un­speak­able evil with self­less hero­ism and Amer­i­can strength,” he said.

Be­tween shar­ing sto­ries about those on the plane and re­count­ing the morn­ing of the at­tacks mo­ment-by-mo­ment, Mr. Pence told the fam­i­lies of those who per­ished, “We’re with you,” and said “the Bi­ble tells us that the Lord is close to the bro­ken-hearted.”

Many of those fam­ily mem­bers were in the au­di­ence for the me­mo­rial’s an­nual cer­e­mony, hon­or­ing the group aboard Flight 93 who mounted a counter-as­sault against their hi­jack­ers on 9/ 11 and pre­vented an­other at­tack, likely at the U.S. Capi­tol Build­ing.

The hun­dreds gath­ered in the field were silent at around 10:03 a.m., when me­mo­rial of­fi­cials read the names of the men and women who per­ished — one by one — ring­ing bells of re­mem­brance with each name.

The fam­ily mem­bers got to join Mr. Pence af­ter his speech while he placed a wreath at the Wall of Names, con­tain­ing 40 in­scribed white mar­ble pan­els of each pas­sen­ger and crew mem­ber. They then walked with the vice pres­i­dent and sec­ond lady Karen Pence to a nearby boul­der mark­ing the gen­eral lo­ca­tion of where the plane crashed 18 years ago.

Gor­don Felt, whose brother was on Flight 93, opened re­marks of his own by say­ing the 40 pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers dis­played three char­ac­ter­is­tics that should be em­u­lated to­day: Strength through di­ver­sity, a com­mit­ment to demo­cratic prin­ci­ples and a will­ing­ness to make tough de­ci­sions.

“Be­cause of their ac­tions on that fated blue sky morn­ing — just as we have to­day — their mem­ory be­longs to us all and their ac­tions will in­spire gen­er­a­tions to come,” Mr. Felt said.

Join­ing the vice pres­i­dent Wed­nes­day was Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior David Bern­hardt. Also in at­ten­dance were state Sen. Pat Ste­fano, R-Fayette, Ger­man diplo­mat Niels von Redecker and Guinean Pres­i­dent Al­pha Condé.

Mr. Bern­hardt, prais­ing the me­mo­rial for keep­ing the mem­ory alive for young Amer­i­cans who were born af­ter the at­tacks, said he takes com­fort in know­ing that “Pres­i­dent [Don­ald] Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Pence are keep­ing Amer­ica safe and se­cure.”

“Pres­i­dent Trump knows first­hand the dev­as­ta­tion the at­tacks brought to his city and this na­tion, and he and the vice pres­i­dent are com­mit­ted to keep­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple safe from forces of evil through­out the world,” Mr. Bern­hardt told the crowd.

Mr. Pence also praised the pres­i­dent dur­ing his speech, echo­ing Mr. Trump’s words from ear­lier in the day and say­ing that the pres­i­dent asked him to be at the me­mo­rial “to pay a debt of honor” to the mem­ory and fam­i­lies of the 40 pas­sen­gers and crew mem­bers.

The best way to honor the 40, he said, is by “re­solv­ing here and now that we will do as they did, each of us, in all of our var­ied roles to pre­vent such evil from ever reach­ing our shores again” — and said that un­der the cur­rent pres­i­dent, the mil­i­tary won’t re­lent un­til “the earth is purged of the scourge of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.”

Tak­ing a page from his speech in 2017 at the me­mo­rial, Mr. Pence shared a per­sonal story about how he would have been stand­ing near the front of the U.S. Capi­tol with hun­dreds of oth­ers at the time the plane would have reached it, if not for the 40 on the flight.

“As I stand be­fore you to­day, I say from my heart, I will al­ways be­lieve that I and many oth­ers from our na­tion’s capi­tol were able to go home and hug our fam­i­lies be­cause of the courage and self­less­ness of your fam­i­lies,” Mr. Pence said. “Heroes.”

Pittsburgh’s River City Brass Band pro­vided the mu­si­cal selec­tions. Mu­si­cal di­rec­tor James Gourlay said the per­for­mance was de­signed to be “quite solemn but up­lift­ing, with a pa­tri­otic fla­vor.”

“It’s more in­ward-look­ing, rather than the big num­bers you might do on the Fourth of July,” he said.

Mr. Trump gave the keynote ad­dress at last year’s event. First lady Me­la­nia Trump was also in at­ten­dance.

Me­mo­rial of­fi­cials stressed the im­por­tance of keep­ing the mem­ory of the 40 alive, and us­ing their sto­ries as in­spi­ra­tion to do good.

“Ever since that mo­ment, these spe­cial peo­ple have al­ways been re­mem­bered as heroes, not just to Amer­i­cans, but also many around the world,” said Stephen M. Clark, su­per­in­ten­dent of the me­mo­rial. “Ex­tra­or­di­nary cit­i­zens who showed in­cred­i­ble strength and re­silience un­der ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.”

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

Karen Pence and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence sit with the fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tims of Flight 93 dur­ing a cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day hon­or­ing the 18th an­niver­sary of the United Air­lines Flight 93 crash in Stony­creek, Som­er­set County.

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