When United Airlines Flight 93 took off from Newark, New Jersey at 8:46 AM on Sept. 11, 2001, it was late.
The flight’s near-45 minute delay would prove to be pivotal. The four hijackers on board intended to crash the plane, which was bound for San Francisco, in the Washington, D.C. area, likely aiming for the U.S. Capitol or the White House.
Instead, the flight’s passengers and crew banded together to fight back against the hijackers who had taken over the cockpit and divert the plane, because they had already gotten word from the ground about the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
On board was Edward Felt, a 41-year-old computer engineer from New Jersey traveling to San Francisco for business on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a husband and father to two girls.
His brother, Gordie Felt, is the president of the Families of Flight 93.
“I do think about how his life would have unfolded, as well as how his daughters’ lives would have unfolded,” Gordie Felt told Spectrum News. “Sept. 11 deeply affected us as a country, but for those that lost loved ones, it affected us personally.”
Edward Felt had placed a 911 call from the plane five minutes before it went down, saying, “Hijacking in progress!”
The story of those passengers and their decision to fight back — potentially saving hundreds more lives — is now memorialized in the same place where Flight 93 crashed that day: a field outside Shanksville, Pa., now a memorial overseen by the U.S. National Park Service.
At the National Memorial on Saturday, at 10:03 AM — 20 years after the moment Flight 93 crashed — the names of all 40 victims will be read, and the Bells of Remembrance will be rung in their memory.
After a wreath is placed at the Wall of Names, the ceremonial gate will be opened to allow family members to walk onto the crash site, an area reserved for loved ones only.
Vice President Kamala Harris and former president George W. Bush will deliver remarks at the ceremony, and the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and the interior secretary, Deb Haaland, will also join them from Washington.
The Flight 93 Memorial outside Shanksville spans about 2,200 acres, which includes a visitors center, the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tower with a wind chime representing each person killed, 40 memorial groves and a Wall of Names to honor of the victims and finally the crash site itself, reserved only for visitation from families and loved ones.
Gordie Felt was deeply involved in the development of the memorial.
“I found that I needed an outlet to channel some of the anger, the frustration into something that would become a positive,” he told Spectrum News.
He said the Tower of Voices was the final step to completing the national memorial. Felt marks the 9/11 anniversary on site each year, and he plans to keep doing so.
“It’s impossible for us to move on. But yet, we have to learn how to move forward,” he said.
“I don’t miss Ed any more this year than I did last year just because it's the 20th anniversary,” he said. “But I also acknowledge the fact that, you know, this is a unique opportunity this year for us to share the message and remember with the world.”
View the names, pictures and profiles of all the Flight 93 victims here.