The passengers and crewof United Airlines Flight 93 "joined the immortal ranks of American heroes" when they fought back, according to President Donald Trump.
"This field is now a monument to America's finest; this memorial is a message to the world that America will never, ever submit to tyranny," Trump told those gathered at the Flight 93 National Memorial Tuesday morning to memorialize those aboard the airplane.
With his wife, Melania, Trump marked his first visit to the site where Flight 93 crashed 17 years earlier, on Sept, 11, 2001. The passengers and crew fought back against four hijackers, forcing the airplane down in a field in Stonycreek Township and away from its intended target in Washington, D.C.
"In a field beyond this wall and the skies above our heads we remember the moment when America fought back," Trump said.
About 1,500 people attended the ceremony. Trump thanked the family members, reminding them that the entire country grieves with them. Before the speakers offered their remarks, family members of those who died on Flight 93 read the names of their loved ones. They were led by memorial Architect Paul Murdoch. A bell of remembrance was sounded to honor each individual.
"They boarded the plane as strangers and they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes," Trump said.
Trump shared the story of Dorothy Garcia, whose husband, Sonny, was killed on Flight 93. He said that all she wanted back was her husband's wedding ring, which was inscribed with the words "All my love." A few months later, it was recovered and returned to her.
"Those words echo across this field," the president said. "Dorothy and every family here today, America will never forget what your loved ones did for all of us."
Trump told the families that they are not alone in their grief.
"Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation," he said.
He also said that America's future is not written by its enemies.
"America's future is written by our heroes," he said. "As long as this monument stands, as long as this memorial endures, brave patriots will rise up in America's hours of need and they, too, will fight back."
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the entire park system tells a story.
"It truly is a story of heroes, a story of tragedy and most importantly a story of our shared values," he said.
Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93 and brother of Flight 93 passenger Edward Porter Felt, said that as families approached the crash site 17 years ago, they did not know that their loved ones' actions would inspire a nation.
"Because of their actions further loss of life was averted," he said.
Felt said that the 35 minutes the passengers fought seemed like a lifetime to their loved ones.
"We have to choose to be inspired," he said. "They deserve no less, and we as freedom-loving people can afford no less. If we choose to forget the lessons through neglect, apathy or distraction, we will become less free."
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker said he is always in awe of the Flight 93 National Memorial. Schweiker became governor in 2001 after Tom Ridge resigned to become the country's first homeland security director.
"It was here that freedom took its first stand," he said.
He challenged everyone to continue to tell the stories of the men and women who fought back on Flight 93.
"Be their storyteller," he said. "And when you do, tell everyone: On Sept. 11, 2001, at 9:33 a.m., it was here that freedom took its dramatic stand."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that the word hero is one of the most overused words in any language.
"But the people who found themselves in Flight 93 are in fact heroes," he said. "The first responders and everyday citizens who came to the crash site, they are heroes, too."
Memorial Superintendent Steve Clark talked about the importance of the memorial.
"They voted to take action, refusing to let their airplane be used to induce more damage upon this nation," he said. "In the process they sacrificed their very own lives to save many."