Congress thanks Sept. 11 air travelers who may have saved them

September 9, 2009

OBAMA/Congress paused on Wednesday to thank the air travelers who possibly saved their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 by fighting back against the al Qaeda hijackers who had taken over their plane.

In a brief ceremony, congressional leaders unveiled a plaque inscribed with the names of those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who forced the hijackers to crash the plane in a Pennsylvania field before reaching its target, presumed to be the Capitol or the White House.

Hijackers diverted the San-Francisco bound plane and pointed it toward Washington that morning as part of a coordinated attack that also crashed three jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The plaque, mounted near the Capitol rotunda, notes that those aboard the plane “not only saved countless lives but may have saved the U.S. Capitol from destruction.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner and other lawmakers read out the names of the 40 passengers and crew, occasionally stumbling over the pronunciation of their names.

Marilyn Johnson, a relative of the plane’s co-pilot LeRoy Homer Jr., said she was pleased by the recognition.

“You know how people say sometimes, ‘Oh, move on,’ but I’m happy that people know that this was a great accomplishment. … We know that our loved ones will never be forgotten,” she told Reuters.

Lawmakers later gathered in a nearby hall to sing “God Bless America,” the song that also provided a brief moment of unity when they sang it on the Capitol steps in 2001.

“We stand in a building that might not be here but for these heroes,” Reid said.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathon Ernst (A flag flies in front of the U.S. Capitol)

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see