Mike Pence, Karen Pence, Gordon Felt

Vice President Mike Pence (center) and second lady Karen Pence (second from left) meet with Gordon Felt (right), president of Families of Flight 93, as they arrive Sept. 11, 2019, for the September 11th Flight 93 Memorial Service at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. Felt's brother Edward Felt was one of the 40 passenger and crew killed on Flight 93.

As several speakers noted during a Sept. 11 memorial observance Wednesday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, many incoming college freshmen this semester may have been born in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States that took place 18 years ago.

And incredibly, some pointed out, some may not know of the remarkable heroism that led the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 to retake control of the plane, thwarting their hijackers’ attack on Washington D.C. and giving their lives as the plane wound up nosediving into a field in Pennsylvania.

That makes it all the more important, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday, that those who do remember make a point of telling the story, every year without fail, so that those who came after will learn about the sacrifice in the skies.

“We must never forget and never fail to honor the memory of those who were lost here, in New York City and in Washington, D.C.,” the vice president told the assembled crowd, which included family members of the Flight 93 passengers and crew. “And this we will do. We will tell their story, we will honor their memory always.

“To the families of the fallen, as President [Donald] Trump said this morning at the Pentagon, I say now: The memory of your loved ones will never die,” Pence continued. “They will always be with us. We will always tell their story to future generations.”

Pence’s appearance in Pennsylvania was part of a day of recognition by the Trump administration that included appearances by Trump at the site of the World Trade Center attacks in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

The vice president made explicit mention of not only the Americans who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, but also of the almost 7,000 battlefield losses that the nation has suffered in the course of the War on Terror that followed in the aftermath in Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations across the world.

Giving credit to the president for continuing to pursue the nation’s enemies across the globe, Pence emphasized that the battle is not over.

“The threat of terrorism remains, but I can assure you, under this commander in chief, our armed forces will never relent till the Earth is purged of the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism,” Pence said. “What the terrorists of 9/11 did not understand is that the American people's love of peace is exceeded only by our resolve to defend our freedom.”

The vice president also sounded a more personal note when he suggested that the actions of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 to take on the hijackers may have saved his own life, since he was a serving congressman at the time.

“As I stand before you today, I say from my heart I will always believe that I and many others in our nation's capital were able to go home that day and hug our families because of the courage and selflessness of your families, the heroes of Flight 93,” he said.

Regional Editor

Dave Lemery is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship newspaper was named best weekly in Illinois, and he has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.