September 17, 2010 > 9/11 remembered
By Shavon Walker
Photo by Shavon Walker
Every September 11 and Memorial Day, veterans and family members gather at the Flight 93 Memorial in Union City to remember those who perished because of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This year, they were joined by Ride With the 40 (RW40), a cross-country motorcycle group created to raise awareness and funds for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Union City's Flight 93 Memorial, which was dedicated on December 8, 2007, was their penultimate stop on their trip from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco Airport, re-tracing the path of United Airlines Flight 93.
Lettie Smith and the Bagpipe Corps played the processional, while Christine Cattano, Director of Public Relations for RW40, which hosted the event, welcomed the guests and gave a brief history of the motorcycle group and described their goals. Mark Grandcolas emphasized the sacrifice made by those aboard Flight 93 and encouraged everyone present to remember them.
RW40 read aloud the roll of the Flight 93's 33 passengers and seven crewmembers. Union City Police Department's Chaplain Albert Valencia gave the benediction.
"We must remember the enemy that perpetrated this attack has not and will not prevail. We thank those who displayed unimaginable heroism... and we choose to take this time to show how much their sacrifice means to us," he said.
The 9/11 flag, which bears the American Flag superimposed over the World Trade Center's Twin Towers on a white background, was raised as Katelyn West, a competitor in Union City's Teen Idol competition, sang the National Anthem.
The ceremony concluded with a 21 gun salute, "Echo Taps" by the Boy Scouts, and a closing speech by Jonathan Bozak, the Ride Logistics Captain.
"Taking action is the most important message here," he said as he surveyed the many attendees. "The goal is to keep the memory alive. It's touching and inspiring to see people paying their respects. A lot of us are from New York City but we're small town folk in our hearts."
"I think it's just important that people remember that particular day and the events that took place," said Jeff Frishof, road captain for Legs nine and 10 of the ride. "We started in Newark, New Jersey and rode all the way out here. This is the second year we've done this and we shall do it again next year."
Union City's Flight 93 Memorial incorporates symbolism in every item. The granite slabs, each engraved with a passenger or crew member's name, age and home-town, have polished steel mirrors embedded in them to remind people the crash could have happened to anyone, including the viewer. The pink granite is left unfinished on the back and uneven on the sides to represent the "unfinished" lives of the victims. The slabs are set in a flowing line, with benches nearby, to allow visitors to reflect on what they have seen.
Tea roses, called Flight 93 roses, adorn the adjacent garden area. The variety was created specifically for the monument. Five dollars from each purchase goes toward the construction of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
For more information and to donate to the trust fund for the Union City Flight 93 Memorial, visit www.93memorial.com. To contribute to the National Memorial, visit www.HonorFlight93.org.