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June 8, 2010 > Flight 93, 9/11 remembered on Memorial Day

Flight 93, 9/11 remembered on Memorial Day

By Shavon Walker
Photos By Daniel Swiger

Veterans, government officials and community members gathered at the Flight 93 Memorial at Sugar Mill Landing Park, Union City, on May 31 to remember the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Michael Emerson, the driving force behind the monument, was Master of Ceremonies.

The Honor Guard began with a 21-gun salute, while Katelyn West performed the national anthem. Union City Police Department's Chaplain Valmac led prayers.

Emerson, Councilwoman Carol Dutra Vernaci, Deputy City Manager Tony Acosta and Carol Dahl Heiderich, sister of Flight 93 pilot Captain Jason Dahl, read aloud the names of the passengers aboard Flight 93. Bill Heiderich also read from the list of names.

Flags were changed while the Eagle Scouts sounded Taps before Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Pipes and Drums Police performed "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes and snare.

"I was devastated by what happened. As a former Marine and Desert Storm soldier, what would I have done in that situation? I knew the plane's final destination was San Francisco; that meant many were local folks. I sent out condolences to as many as I could - emails, phone calls, letters. In fact, Alice Brigham, Mark Brigham's mother, told me her first call about the crash was from me," explained Emerson who has been passionate about the Flight 93 Memorial for so long.

He became frustrated when, upon visiting Ground Zero in 2002, he discovered there was no discussion about Flight 93. He wanted to erect a memorial in the Bay Area. Union City embraced the idea and maintains the memorial. After five years of donations, it was dedicated on December 8, 2007. Every year, he and others gather for the ceremony at 2 p.m.

Emerson pointed out the symbolism of various items around the park. The slabs have steel mirrors embedded in them to remind people that the crash could have happened to anyone, including the viewer. The granite slabs are left unfinished on the back and uneven on the sides to demonstrate the unfinished lives of the victims. All of the slabs are set in a line, with benches nearby, to allow viewers to reflect on what they have seen.

Each slab is engraved with a passenger's name, age and home-town. He directed attention to one slab with the name of a woman and "unborn child" beneath it. In the aftermath of 9/11, on speaking with the deceased's spouse, Emerson learned that she had been pregnant so he ensured her memory and that of the lost child will be forever-remembered.

"I want to build a national memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the crash site," Emerson added. He pointed to a nearby rose bush, one of many that decorated the area. "These tea roses are all genetically unique. They're called the 9/11 Flight 93 rose. People can buy them from the National Memorial website; five dollars from each purchase goes to help build the memorial."

For more information, visit To contribute to the National Memorial, visit

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