SHANKSVILLE (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife on Saturday joined volunteers who are planting thousands of trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Corbett and first lady Susan Corbett laid flowers at the memorial wall before an event honoring the 33 passengers and seven crew members killed when the plane crashed into a field on Sept. 11, 2001, after passengers fought back against hijackers, the governor’s office said.
“We are planting these trees not only in their memory, but in honor of the futures they assured for countless citizens by planting the first seeds of resistance to assure our nation’s freedom,” Corbett said. About 600 volunteers are planting about 15,000 trees on 23 acres this year at the site about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. More than 150,000 trees are to be planted at the site.
United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked by four terrorists.
The 9/11 Commission said the terrorists likely wanted to crash the plane into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, but the jet went down in a field near Shanksville after passengers fought back.
On Friday, about 160 volunteers took part in the first day of planting, including students, faculty, staff and administrators from the Penn State Altoona campus.
Catie Kilgus, 20, of Doe Run, a sophomore majoring in English and minoring in environmental studies, told The (Somerset) Daily American that she missed last year’s tree planting, so she wanted to come this year.
“We’ve studied environmental issues with the site, both because of the crash and that it was previously mined,” she said. “This is a good way to give back by planting trees.”
Ashley Wilmont, 22, of Hughesville, an environmental studies major, was back for the second year.
“It was really special to see the beginning of the tree planting and this year how the site has changed,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and to honor those on Flight 93.”