President Donald Trump commemorated the Sept. 11 attacks by visiting the Shanksville, Pennsylvania field where United Flight 93 crashed, remembering the incident as the moment the U.S. “fought back” against terrorism.
The 40 passengers and crew of the doomed plane “attacked the enemy,” Trump said in a speech. “They fought until the very end. And they stopped the forces of evil and defeated this wicked, horrible, evil plan.”
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He also recognized the 5.5 million Americans that he said had enlisted in the armed services since the attacks. More than 7,000 “died facing down the menace of radical Islamic terrorism,” he said, using a phrase his two immediate predecessors considered divisive.
Trump’s visit to the Shanksville site, where Flight 93 crashed after passengers and crew attempted to regain control of the hijacked aircraft, included a tour of the Wall of Names, where marble slabs are inscribed with the names of the victims.
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The 9/11 Commission concluded that the al-Qaeda hijackers had intended to fly the Boeing 757 aircraft, which departed Newark International Airport, toward a high-profile target in Washington, D.C. The passengers and crew “saved the lives of countless Americans and they saved our capital from a devastating strike,” Trump said.
Trump’s visit was intended to focus on “remembering the lives that were lost and certainly honoring the individuals who were not only lost that day but also put their lives on the line to help in that process,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday.
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Vice President Mike Pence attended a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the terror attacks at the Pentagon in Washington.
Former President Barack Obama visited the Shanksville site on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks in 2011, and former President George W. Bush dedicated the memorial on the site later that year.
“This field is now a monument to American defiance,” Trump said, calling it “a message to the world: America will never, ever submit to tyranny.”
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