Remembering Heroes: Visiting the 9/11 Flight 93 Memorial in Union City

The hijacked plane that crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 was headed to San Francisco, and those who lost their lives on board — including many from the Bay Area — are memorialized as heroes for the bravery they demonstrated in their final moments

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What to Know

  • The fourth hijacked jetliner to crash on September 11, 2001 was a plane bound for San Francisco, with numerous Bay Area residents on board
  • A memorial monument and garden in Union City, California honors the passengers and crew members who lost their lives aboard United Flight 93
  • The crew and passengers of Flight 93 are regarded as heroes for their efforts to fight back against the hijackers, ultimately forcing the plane to crash in an unpopulated area, saving hundreds or thousands of additional lives

Nearly three thousand people lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

But the death toll could have been much greater, if not for the actions of 40 people aboard United Flight 93, which left Newark, NJ that Tuesday morning on its way to San Francisco.

"There were some heroes on that plane," Sridhar Sarnobat said as he visited the memorial to take photos at dusk.

"The world is a safer place because of them," agreed his friend Deepti Reddy. "We need more people like them."

The story of Flight 93 is inscribed on towering stone tablets at the Union City memorial, detailing the moment-by-moment terror that unfolded in the skies. Upon learning that other planes had already been flown into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, passengers and crew made a collective decision to storm the cockpit and take on the four hijackers, who appeared to be piloting the plane toward Washington, D.C. After a prolonged struggle, the jet ultimately crashed into the ground at a reclaimed strip mine near Shanksville, Pennsylvania at over 500 miles per hour.

"It touches my heart that they were that brave," said Jeanette Green, who visited the memorial for the first time on September 9, 2021.

"Either way, they were probably going to die, but they chose to save other people," said Christopher Epperson, who visited the memorial with Green. "I don't know that most people could do that rationally. And in a group of people who don't know each other, that's pretty amazing."

Remembrance ceremonies are held at the Flight 93 memorial in Union City every five years, including this year, which marks 20 years since the terror attacks.

"Wow, it's been 20 years," Reddy said. "And it still feels like it just happened. In a way, it's a part of everybody's life, the fabric of our lives if you think about it."

She added, "We've done a lot of good in the past 20 years, and we can do even more."

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