Local/State

Visitors pay respects to Flight 93 victims in Pa.

Monday, May 02, 2011
A flag hangs on a fence overlooking the crash site of United Flight 93 at the temporary Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.

A flag hangs on a fence overlooking the crash site of United Flight 93 at the temporary Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. (AP Photo / AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden prompted a handful of visitors to visit the field where Flight 93 plunged into the earth and to pay their respects to the passengers who fought back against terrorists in the skies over Pennsylvania.

On a gray, overcast morning, with a few bursts of sprinkles, visitors gathered Monday at the fence-lined overlook that serves as a temporary memorial. The low groan of bulldozers working on a permanent Flight 93 Memorial pierced the otherwise quiet, bucolic scene.

Daniel Pyle, 33, of Shanksville, made it at a point to stop at the site on his way to work at a lawn care company after learning of the death of bin Laden, the FBI's most wanted fugitive who was killed in a firefight with a U.S. counter-terrorism unit at a mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"I thought of Sept. 11 and the people lost," Pyle said after snapping a picture of the ongoing construction with a camera. "I wanted to pay homage to the people lost that day. I think this brings a little bit of closure."

Gordon Felt, whose brother died on board Flight 93, said the families do feel a sense of closure and "a measure of comfort."

"My greatest fear was that we would never know with certainty that bin Laden was actually dead," said Felt, the president of the Families of Flight 93.

"He could have died of natural causes, and we would never have known, or he could have been killed in a drone attack and his body not recovered," Felt told The Associated Press early Monday by phone from Remsen, N.Y. "I think that the ability of our military to kill bin Laden but recover his body will help us all rest assured that he is really dead."

Felt called President Barack Obama's announcement important news for the victims' families and the world at large.

"To be quite frank, I am very happy that this man is dead," he said. "I was always raised, obviously, never to hope for someone's death, but I'm willing to make an exception in this case. This man killed thousands of people of all races of all faiths, of all nationalities. He was evil personified, and our world is a better place without him."

William Murray, 65, of Hooversville, lives 10 miles north of the crash site but hadn't visited the memorial until Monday. News of bin Laden's death prompted him and his wife to make the drive. He looked out toward the bulldozers and construction crews working on the permanent memorial about a couple hundred yards away.

"I'm glad they got him. I was hoping they would catch him," rather than kill him, "because he'll become more of a martyr," he said. "There will probably be some (retribution) on us."

Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge said he remained confident bin Laden would be found, despite a manhunt of more than decade.

Ridge said even bin Laden may not have expected the resolve of the country in responding to the attacks, although "I'm sure his followers certainly appreciate it now."

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing into the White House or Capitol, the 9/11 Commission found. Passengers fought back and the plane crashed into a barren field near Shanksville, about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

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Todt reported from Philadelphia.

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Tags:
osama bin laden, washington, d.c., president barack obama, afghanistan, pakistan, terrorism, saudi arabia, u.s. navy, local/state
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