SHANKSVILLE, PA — Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar honored the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 at the Flight 93 National Memorial dedication ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Joined by United States Vice President Joe Biden, former United States Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Secretary Salazar thanked the Families of Flight 93 and all those involved for their leadership and vision in making the Flight 93 National Memorial a reality as the 389th unit of the National Park System.
Secretary Salazar's remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
We join together as friends... as family... as citizens to forge from our memories an enduring monument to love, courage, and sacrifice.
In one morning, a turn of history and a rush of heroes forever changed this land.
The battle that began six miles overhead ended here, with the roar of engines in the valley of the Stonycreek River.
Since that day, millions of Americans have come to honor the heroes of Flight 93. They brought their pictures, their letters, and their prayers.
And the people of this land - themselves survivors, witnesses, and first responders - welcomed those who came. They helped us mourn. They helped us reflect. And they helped build a memorial for all Americans, for all time.
To the citizens of Somerset County and Stonycreek Township, we thank you.
To the landowners who gave of their property for their nation, we honor your role in creating this memorial.
To architect Paul Murdoch, who kept true to the landscape and event, your design moves our hearts.
To the Families of Flight 93, the Flight 93 Advisory Commission, the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force, the National Park Foundation, and to Pennsylvania's elected officials - thank you for your leadership and vision.
To the tens of thousands of citizens who have donated to this cause, you honor us all.
And to the families themselves, who suffered an unspeakable tragedy but rededicated themselves so deeply to protecting this final resting place. Their partnership in this process…this place…will ensure the legacy of their loved ones lives on.
I am honored and humbled to have worked with all of you to make this day happen so we will never forget those heroes who gave their lives on this hallowed ground.
Today, this special place enters the care and trust of the National Park Service as the 389th unit of the National Park System. It joins the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg and Yorktown, Selma and Pearl Harbor, as a place where patriots gave their lives for their country.
Here - like so many of the lands and sites we protect - we are reminded of that which binds us as one people.
We are reminded that we all share in our nation's triumphs as well as its trials. We share dreams of peace and prosperity. And we are reminded that we stand up for one another... fight for each other... and defend the rights and dignity endowed to all humankind.
The heroism of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 will endure forever. It will live in the hearts of visitors moved by the sights and sounds of this place: the field of honor, the groves of tree, the wind chimes heard through the landscape.
On behalf of the men and women of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, we pledge to guard this hallowed ground so that all who visit may learn what happened here.
We will tell the story of Flight 93.
We will ensure that the 40 patriots who gave their lives are never forgotten.
And we will see to it that the American values so evident that day - determination, resilience, and service - continue to inspire us, guide us, and give us hope.