By Greg Stocker
I have to be honest. The thought of waking up at four in the morning and then sitting on a bus for four hours on a beautiful Saturday in September was not appealing. But that thought changed when I got to the Plymouth Meeting parking lot at 5 a.m. and saw 500 enthusiastic listeners waiting to board the eight buses that were waiting for them, older people, young kids, and people of all backgrounds were waiting to go pay tribute to those who lost there lives in Shanksville, Pennsylvania 10 years ago Sunday.
As we approached Shanksville, we were watching the movie “Flight 93”. It put me right back in the moment of September 11th 2001, as we were watching what went on right above us 10 years ago.
The security to get into the event was very tight, much like getting on an airplane these days. The ground was still wet and muddy from previous rainstorms. I had joked it was like being at Woodstock. As we walked through security, there was a sweeping, black arch with a pathway that led right by the actual crash site, where a boulder lays with wreaths and flowers.We put our chairs on the side of a hill to have a good vantage point of the stage where bipartisan dignitaries would speak later in the day.
As they read the names of the people who died on Flight 93 and tolled a bell after each, you could have heard a pin drop. Thousands of people were standing in a field in silence.
President Bush was the first dignitary to speak, saying this of the people that risked there lives to take over the plane:
“The most likely target of the hijacked plane was the United States Capitol. We’ll never know how many innocent people might have been lost, but we do know this. Americans are alive today because the passengers and crew of Flight 93 chose to act, and our nation will be forever grateful.”
He was followed by former President Bill Clinton who ended his speech pledging to work with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on a bipartisan effort to fund the remainder of the memorial – a gesture that Michael tweeted and lamented that we don’t see enough of in Washington.
During the ride home, I really reflected on what I had just witnessed. It was not only a solemn day, it was also a celebration of the people who gave so much for there country, and giving there lives to save many others.
A four hour bus trip there and a four hour bus trip back is a really long day, but it was an experience I will never forget and I feel I witnessed history. I am so proud of the 500 people who went with us, a group of people you will never meet. All races, creeds, ages and religions got together for the common good – to pay their respects to those who died. It’s a shame it takes a national tragedy for this to happen.