A solemn President Donald Trump paid tribute here Tuesday to the late passengers of Flight 93, who on Sept. 11, 2001, disrupted the plan of terrorists to crash one of their hijacked planes into the U.S. Capitol.
Trump said the fallen had “joined the immortal ranks of American heroes.”
“They attacked the enemy,” he said. “They fought until the very end. And they stopped the forces of terror and defeated this wicked, horrible, evil plan.”
Hundreds of people gathered under gray skies on a chilly morning to pay remembrance to the 33 passengers, seven crew members and one unborn child who perished when Flight 93 slammed into an open field here 17 years ago.
They dressed in windbreakers and sweatshirts and jeans and baseball caps and sat in white folding chairs in the muddy field. Some sported Trump campaign gear, including red “Make America Great Again” baseball hats, while others donned black-and-yellow Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia.
“Today all of America wraps up and joins together,” Trump said from a covered stage that had been set up for him to deliver remarks and join in the observance. “We close our arms to help you shoulder your pain and to carry your great, great sorrow. Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation.”
The president noted the final parts of a memorial on the site that was dedicated this week: Standing 93 feet tall, it includes 40 chimes.
During his remarks, Trump relayed the story of the wife of one of the victims, who had asked officials to find her husband’s wedding ring at the crash site. It took months, but the ring, inscribed with “all my love,” was eventually found and returned.
“America will never forget what your loved ones did for all of us,” Trump told the audience from a lectern bearing the presidential seal.
Six flags, including the Stars and Stripes, stood behind the lectern, marking the nationalities of those who died. There were also two blue signs, one reading “A Common Field One Day” and the other “A Field of Honor Forever.”
A boulder marking the spot where the plane crashed into the field stood in the distance beyond the stage.
Trump’s remarks, on a morning when ceremonies were also held in New York and at the Pentagon outside Washington, largely reflected the tone of the other events. But the day included several discordant moments.
Trump’s tweets show him signing a proclamation to honor victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and another praised the leadership of Rudy Giuliani, then the mayor of New York, for his response.
“His leadership, bravery and skill must never be forgotten. Rudy is a TRUE WARRIOR!” Trump wrote of Giuliani, who is serving as a personal attorney to Trump amid the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump later posted a tweet showing his departure from the White House and another that read: “17 years since September 11th!”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · David Nakamura, John Wagner