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UNION CITY (KPIX) — Union City is home to the first permanent memorial to Flight 93 in the country but, on Saturday, among calls for remembrance there were concerns that the most important lesson of 9/11 is already being forgotten.
Flight 93 was the only hijacked plane that didn’t hit its target. It was brought down instead in a field in Shanksville, PA after passengers and crew rose up against the terrorists. The plane was bound for the Bay Area and that’s why the memorial was built here.
“To remember every single day what these heroes did on 9/11 and how our world changed,” said the memorial’s founder, Michael Emerson.
Saturday morning, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was commemorated in a ceremony at the site. The names of those who perished on Flight 93 were read aloud and a bell was rung for each. Flight attendant Deborah Covell placed a rose on each marker, as a personal tribute to the passengers and crew.
“It’s just a bond that you have and, yes, every year on 9/11 when I watch all the different programs that are on TV, I’m still crying my eyes out 20 years later!” she said.
After the attacks, Americans put aside their differences and rallied together unlike any time since World War II.
“We mourned. We cried. We prayed,” Union City police chaplain Albert Valencia told the crowd. “But we also learned something about who we were as a nation. We truly were the United States of America.”
That lesson may be what’s being forgotten. In today’s superheated political climate, asking for sacrifice for the common good is seen by many as government tyranny and an attack on freedom. It’s raising doubt whether we would have the same response if 9/11 happened today.
“I am conflicted about how we would react today. I would hope we would all come together but I don’t know,” said Union City resident Andrew Gross. “It seems like when things are at their worst that people get together and help each other out but I would hope that remembrances like this will remind us and give us a chance to teach the next generation what it was like to all come together.”
Of everyone at the memorial, Tiffany Jackson perhaps had lost the most. Her aunt Wanda Green died on Flight 93 and Tiffany hopes her death will come to mean more than just the ringing of a bell.
“In a time like now, it reminds me I need to be a better person. We all do,” Jackson said. “How we pulled together back then is how we should be pulling together now and I think it’s just a reminder that we need to appreciate the time that we have with each other, which is precious.”
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