OPINION: Rep. John Joyce remembers the heroes of Flight 93

No band of strangers has faced a decision more monumental than the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93. For these men and women, a seemingly ordinary flight on a Tuesday morning became an unimaginable battle between good and evil. They didn’t set out to be heroes, but the moment chose them.

In a matter of minutes, the crew and passengers of Flight 93 changed the course of our nation’s history – and the history of Somerset County. As a team, they triumphed over evil – sacrificing themselves to prevent further acts of terror, defend our country, and protect their fellow Americans.

In Shanksville, President George W. Bush once said, “What happened above this Pennsylvania field was among the most courageous acts in American history.”

In laying down their own lives to save others, these men and women embodied the true spirit of America – and the best of America.

On this solemn anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Americans recall the importance of our national unity in the midst of tragedy. Together we remember the selfless sacrifices made aboard Flight 93, as well as the heroic actions of the police and first responders in Shanksville, New York City, and at the Pentagon. We remember the nearly 3,000 precious lives lost in that day’s malicious attacks on our nation, and we remember the life of every American hero who since has given their life to protect our safety and our freedom.

Now 19 years since Flight 93 came to its final rest in Shanksville, we remain resolved that the American people must never forget what transpired there.

The people of Somerset County are proud to serve as stewards of the hallowed ground where the journey of Flight 93 came to an end. Each year, “America’s County” welcomes thousands of visitors who travel to Shanksville to honor the 40 men and women whose names are engraved at the memorial.

Each time that I visit Shanksville, I am newly struck by the magnitude of what was accomplished by those aboard Flight 93. The Flight 93 Memorial is a tremendous tribute to these heroes – and it also serves as an ever-present reminder that freedom is fragile. Our freedom is worth fighting for – regardless of the cost.

Nearly two decades after 9/11, it is my honor to represent Shanksville in the U.S. House of Representatives and to ensure that the legacy of Flight 93 remains at the forefront of our approach to national security.

It is imperative that we continue to protect America from foreign threats, and I am proud to serve as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, which was established in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. From fortifying our defense against ISIS to strengthening America’s cybersecurity, I am working to protect Americans from our enemies. Last year, my legislation to bolster the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming, bipartisan support. We have made progress, and yet more work remains.

President Donald Trump is an incredible leader and partner in this pursuit. Under President Trump’s leadership, the U.S. has defeated ISIS’ territorial caliphate. As our Commander-in-Chief, he directed an operation that brought ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to justice and ordered a decisive strike against Qassem Soleimani – a terrorist responsible for the deaths and wounding of thousands of Americans.

Today, the American people are safer because of the heroic actions of Americans in the Middle East, in Washington, D.C., and yes – in Shanksville.

We are resilient and we are united, bound together by the commitment of the heroes who came before us.

Our union, which was forged and strengthened amidst adversity, will never be broken. The immeasurable sacrifices of our patriots will never be forgotten, and Americans will never be divided.

As a nation, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to liberty and to one another. We will never forget the heroes of Flight 93 and – together – we will preserve their legacy.

Congressman John Joyce (R-13) is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district, serving Franklin, Fulton, Adams, Bedford, Huntingdon, Blair and Somerset counties since 2019.