On the 16th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a heartfelt and moving speech praising the heroes who died bringing United Flight 93 to the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The Vice President’s powerful speech is an important reminder of what we lost on 9/11 and of the spirit of the heroes who willingly gave their lives to save others. It started on Flight 93 in Shanksville, but continued as First Responders in New York City and in Arlington rushed into the buildings that had been struck by terrorists.
40 brave men and women on Flight 93 refused to be used as a weapon to murder American citizens, and 412 first responders died as they rushed into the World Trade Center buildings in an effort to save as many people as possible.
That’s 452 Americans who willingly gave their last breath in a desperate attempt to save their fellow citizens, a more powerful day of heroism has not been seen since our boy’s stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
“We gather here today because the men and women of Flight 93 are heroes and this beautiful memorial stands as a testament to the American people’s undying reverence for their service and sacrifice…” — VP Mike Pence
Here’s the full speech:
Partial transcript below:
One day that became a field of honor forever. President Trump asked me to be here to pay a debt of honor to the 40 heroes of Flight 93, to all the fallen and their families, and to the generation of heroes they inspired. To tell you that his heart is here in Pennsylvania, especially with all of you who lost loved ones 16 years ago.
Our president observed this day of remembrance at the Pentagon Memorial where moments ago he paid tribute to the 184 men and women who lost their lives there.
All of our hears, as well, are with the families of 2,753 men and women, their families who lost their lives at the World Trade Center in New York City.
As the president said just moments ago, we — we grieve with every family of the innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists that day. And we will never forget what happened on September 11th, 2001.
Today we pause as a nation not so much to remember tragedy as to celebrate heroism. And patriotism. But permit me to say that on this day, as Gordy said before, our hearts and our prayers are also with our fellow Americans in Florida and throughout the region who have suffered loss in the winds and waters of Hurricane Irma, at this very hour first responders and new citizen heroes are being forged among the people of Florida, and as the president has said, I say again, to those affected by Hurricane Irma, we are with you.
We will stay with you and we will be with you every day after this tempest passes to restore, recover and rebuild.
Everyone remembers where they were on this day 16 years ago. A mom rousing her children to get ready for school, a farmer wrapping up the morning chores, a coal miner finishing the third shift and heading home.
As a new member of Congress I was going through my normal workday routine at the United States Capitol when I learned of the attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon. I will always remember the scenes of that day, watching the Capitol complex being evacuated. It was as though the building were literally hemorrhaging with people running in every direction.
I found myself just across the street from the U.S. Capitol eventually on the top floor of the headquarters of the Capitol police chief. I was there with leaders of the House and Senate. Shortly after I arrived the chief of police set the phone back down and informed the leaders gathered there that there was a plane inbound to the Capitol and he said it was 12 minutes out.
In that moment the room became silent and as people began to make plans, I found myself looking out the window where just across the street was the Capitol dome with that majestic statue of freedom standing atop it, the dome that’s a symbol of the ideals of this nation, of freedom and democracy for all the world.
So we waited. It was the longest 12 minutes of my life. But it turned to 13 minutes then 14 and then we were informed that the plane had gone down in a field in Pennsylvania.
In the days ahead like every American we would learn the story of the 40 heroes of Flight 93, men and women who looked evil squarely in the eye and without regard to their personal safety they rushed forward to save lives. They were mothers and fathers, your brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters from every walk of life from every background.
Mark Bingham was on his way to be an usher in his college friend’s wedding. CeeCee Lyles was living a childhood dream to be a flight attendant, in the wake of a career in law enforcement. Lauren Grandcolas carried the spark of life within her, an unborn child three months along. And Bill Cashman himself a former Army paratrooper with the 101th Airborne had actually helped to build the World Trade Center with his own two hands.
And there were so many others whose names we just heard echo into the wind this morning. They were ordinary people but on that day they became extraordinary.
We all know the story, Flight 93 took off at 8:42 departing Newark to San Francisco. 46 minutes later terrorists seized control. At 9:35 the plane diverted toward Washington, D.C. The passengers called their loved ones only to find out what was happening across the country. They learned what the rest of America knew, the World Trade Center had been struck. The Pentagon had been hit, only a few moments after they were hijacked.
They figured out that the terrorists intended to use their plane for the same purpose. But as Tom Burnett told his wife on the phone, we’re going to do something. And they did. The men and women of Flight 93 began to join together. They devised a plan in those short moments. They knew their objective. They not only planned but history records that they prayed together with Lisa Jefferson, a phone operator on the ground below. We were told they prayed the Lord’s Prayer. And recited those ancient words, “Though I walk through valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou are with me.”
At 9:57 only after 29 minutes Todd Beamer spoke those words that America and the world will never forget. “Let’s roll.” They charged the cockpit. They took hold of their fate and six minutes later at 10:03, Flight 93 plummeted here to the earth. Brave men and women aboard. Sacrificed their lives for the country we call home.
We gather here today because the men and women of Flight 93 are heroes and this beautiful memorial stands as a testament to the American people’s undying reverence for their service and sacrifice…
Here’s Fox News’ Dana Perino touring the museum in Shanksville, PA: