tv Book Discussion CSPAN November 2, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm EST
for the last three hours he has been our guest on booktv on c-span2. thanks for being with us. >> guest: been my great pleasure. thank you. >> c-span, created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. >> next, tom mcmillan, vice president of communications for the pittsburgh penguins' hockey team. he provides a detailed account of what happened to united airlines flight 93 that crashed in she shanksville, pennsylvanin 9/11. he spoke at barnes & noble in cranberry, pennsylvania. >> thank you, super, for a great presentation. ..
i thought the story needed to be told. i'm a history buff and go to gettysburg all the time and i have been to the temporary memorial ten times. it's only 90 miles from pittsburghy the flight crashed, and i wanted to read more and learn more and was frustrated i couldn't do that. there's an amazing -- in book
form written about september 11th. one book about flight 93 written less than a year after the crash. the author did a great job but there wasn't much known then and much more has come out since then. i thought the story deserved a narrative from beginning to end. noting the flight. the documentary is just the flight. my book starts with -- starts in 1996 when the plot was first proposed to osama bin laden and it goes through a tenth anniversary in 2011 when the flight 93 national memorial was dedicated. the flight -- the two chapters on the fight are in the middle of the book. the afterstory in the county really fascinated me. i thought that the stories being forgotten. if you look at the media, you see the plane letting the tower,
see the pentagon, you might see a few seconds of an empty field in somerset county and the hole. over time this great story has faded. i volunteer at the site, and the spring tours are middle school students. they have little or no recollection. there's already a half generation out there that doesn't remember the day the way we do. some of you guys, the bewilderment and terror we felt that day. that was part of the reason for doing this. you can do the story obviously on all the details, but it gets down to people. to me, it's people. if you had been at the newark international airport the morning of september 11, 2001, and about 7:30, and walked past gate 17 you would have seen 33 regular passengers and seven crew getting ready for what they thought was a routine flight to san francisco.
8:00 a.m. takeoff. united flight 93. there were businessmen and grandparents and college students flying for all the usual ropes to go to a conference, go on vacation, go home. one lady had been east to attend her grandmother's funeral. one attended his grandmother's 100th birthday party. the reason we all travel. some -- todd beamer is the singular name about flight 93 most people recognize. he made a call and said, let roll. there are others who i'd like to introduce you to whose names are not remembered. she was the youngest person on flight 93, from san diego, she was about to enter her junior year at santa clara university. she had been east visiting friends in connecticut and her mother told me she was ticketed on a flight later that day, she
thought, i'll catch a flight early, good stand by, and flight 39 was open. mar citizen was 79 years ol'. she was the oldest person on flight 93. born in germany, came to the country when she was six years old with her parents. went through ellis island, did not speak a word of english, became american, married a policeman, raised two daughters. she was feisty. a robber approached her and she hit him over the head with an umbrella. but she was moving. this is a new part of life for her. moving to san francisco to live with her adult daughter and her daughter's husband. she packed four suitcases. her daughter told me she would so excited to think about going to the airport that morning to pick up her mother for this new phase of her life. john was also in his 70s. a world war ii veteran.
he was a retired bartender at the palm restaurant in new york so he could spin a yarn. he was traveling with a have ya heart because his stepson had recently been married, had again to california on his honeymoon, had died in a car extent on the honeymoon. so john was going to the funeral and collect the remains. the last one is wanda green. wanda is one of five flight attendants on board. one of three african-americans on the flight crew. she was a 29 year veteran of the united airlines but wanted to work in real estate, had the dream of opening her own real estate office. she was scheduled to fly on september 13th. but she thought she might have a house closing that day so see asked her boss for a change in schedule and flew on september 11th. they all boardedded the plane in a timely fashion. the crew first, passengers. the plane pulled back from the gate at 8:01.
and then it sat there. flight 93 did not take off until 8:42, and that delay is crucial in the story. the first line of the book is, flight 93 was late. if it had taken off 15 or 20 minutes earlier, our view of this day might have ban lot different, because there were four other men -- sorry -- four other men on the flight who knew they weren't coming home. they were part of a 19-man terrorist team sent by al qaeda to hijack four planes that morning, fly them into buildings that symbolized american dominance. but their plan was based on absolute precision. naturally, west klose flights have lots of fuel and big explosions but or two take knopf off in a 25-minute time frame. the idea being that these things would happen so fast that no one, not the faa, not the
military, not the passengers on the planes, could do anything about it. the issue with flight 93, though, you'll notice that -- we talk about 19 highjacker, not 20. al al qaeda wanted 20. they wanted four five-man team. win pilot, an al qaeda member who had been here a year, training on planes. then the trained on simulators. they never flew the big planes but simulated because they weren't going to have to take off and land, just steer the planes into buildings. shy thought they could get by with that and they did. one pilot and four muscle hijackers. two to attack the cockpit and take care of the pie lot and copilot, and two, to herd the passengers and crew to the back of the plane. five-man team. flight 93 had four. they only had three muscle
highjackers. did that play a role in what happened late center very well could have. also probably played a role in the other delay, which is this crew took the longest to hijack the plan. al qaeda's plan was to take over the plane in 15 minutes. we know that because two of the plotters are in guantanamo bay and their stories have been consistent. that ended up being probably unrealistic but the other three planes did it in 30 minutes. the guys -- the hijackers on fight 93 took 46 minutes. why? we don't know. we'll never know. those are mysteries we can never know. the hijacker pilot had a girlfriend. he was the only one with a girlfriend. he was waiverring. they were afraid he would drop out of the movement did he lose his nerve for a while? on speculation but it took them longer. the combination of the deflay taking off and the delay in the hijack plan created an opportunity that didn't exist on the other flights. these people can make telephone calls, a lot of phone calls. we hear a lot of todd beamer's
call. there were 37 calls made from flight 93. the early reporting was they were cell phone calls. the media was wrong. no criticism. the early reporting is offer wrong knee. were saying, cell phone calls from 35,000 feet? out of 37 call two were on cell phones. most of the calls were from seat back phones. remember those -- a white phone in the back of the seat, pull it out. slide you credit card through, and for silly calls. i'm in the asian i'll be there in an hour. but these people used them effectively. they made 12 people made 35 calls on air phones. the technology was still -- 20 of the calls disconnected in matter of seconds. there were no conversations. no impact. but 15 got through. that is how we knee lot of what happened on the flight because they told their loved ones what
was going on, but the unintended consequence and what couldn't happen on the other flights was the loved ones watching television told them what was going on. the first flight hit the trade center at 8:46. we thought it was an accident. the second flight hilt the other tower at 9:03. that's when we know we're-under attack. flight 93 does not get hijacked until 9:28. so the loved ones are in the air, watching television. when the calls come in they're telling them what happened. the two planes hit the world trade center. imagine hearing that you're on plane, it's high jacked, somebody has been stabbed. you don't to who is flying the plane. and we have our memory will always be the visual. they didn't have the visual. just try to put yourself in their mind, hearing that. what would that mean? so they're trying to figure out what to do. then at about a quarter to 10:00, they start hearing from wives that the pentagon has been
hit. the pentagon was hit at 9:37. by the time it's hit, it's probably being 9:49, 9:45 these guys get the information. that changed everything. that galvanized them. they enough they had to do something. if they didn't, horrendous death was going to beck beckon. so decided to get together and take over the play. a small group of passengers, an amazing number of large athletic men onboard. maybe there are on flights. maybe a flight now you'll look around. but there was. jeremy flick was a black belt in judo, 6'1", 220. mark bingham was 6'4", 225, a national collegiate rugby champ con, tom burnett, high school quarterback. cooo a company so leadership skills. todd beamer played college basketball and baseball. two of the men were weightlifters, some serious athletic guys here, and a great
cross-section of americana. many of the women had been athletes. it was a group that some people like to say -- they were put there, there was a destiny there. i don't know if you can ever say that, but what they did was amazing. the counterattack started at 9:00 app 57. we know that for two reasons. three ladies were still on the plane, two flight attendants and one passenger, and they all said something to the effect of, i've got to go. everybody is running to the cockpit, three different people reported that. the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder -- the recorder was recovered from flight 93. the only one of the four flights. we have the families and a jury have heard the tape and i was able to obtain very detailed transcript and you can hear what is going on, figure out what is going on. they talk about where the sounds are coming fromment arabic
voice, english voice, male voice. at 9:57 the pilot said to the other hijacker, what's that, a fight? they can hear something going on. there are sounds of screams in arabic so the took down the two mussel hijacks. he realizes that something is going on so he starts waving the wings to throw them offbalance. imagine that happening. they're trying to charge the cockpit, their plane is going this way. the guy who doesn't know how to fly the plane. there's an animation at the ntsb of the flight path. it's hauning and you can see this happen. 30 degrees each way, and then starts going up and down. so it stops them for a while but he want do that forever. they regain their momentum. a little bit after 10:00, the transcript describes a native english speaking voice say, in the cockpit, if we don't, we'll die.
and that's where i just want to say we americans -- i'm a history buff. we have a thing for taking heroic stories and having the need to add myths on to of that. how many of you heard the passengers and crew of flight 93 sacrificed their lives to save other lives. took down the plane to take the capital. that's what happened butted that's not what they intended. they were trying to take back the plane and save themselves. they thought they could save themselves. that obviously would save lives and save the capitol, but that was their intention. there was a licensed pilot onboard, donald green could fly small planes. wasn't licensed to fly a 757, but he had knowledge of aviation. another man onboard worked air traffic control for the california air national guard. so wasn't you and me. these were guys who might have had a chance. still would have been a huge long shot probably but on a clear day, with instruction every step of the ware from air
traffic control they might have had a fighting chance. it was worth it. in the cockpit, if we don't, we'll die. they thought there was an option they might not die. the battle continued. got to the cockpit door. did they get? we'll never know. the fbi didn't conclude that they did. it was inconclusive. the sounds, according to the crypt that are really loud, think they probably did. the sounds on the crypt get really loud and think it must have meant the door was opened. there is a point very late in the flight -- it crashed at 10:03. there's a very loud shout from an english-speaking male that says, turn it up. right after that there's a shout in arabic, that says, pull it down. turn it up, pull it down. is that a battle for control? might be. i think we can say it might be. 'll never know for a sure. at the very end, just after
10:03. a few seconds after 1:10:03, you can see on the flight plan animation the wheel turns hard to the right and the plane turns upside-down. we don't know what caused that. did the hijacker pilot realize he was going to be taken over and just ditch the plane? they weren't told to do that. atta was their leader, save i you can't hit your target, crash the plane. he told his cam patriots he would crash his planes into the streets of new york city if we couldn't hit the world trade center. but it could have been a struggle. could have turned because they were fighting for a control. again, we'll never know. but it was because of the efforts of the passengers and crew, whatever the reason, that they caused. the plane turns upside-down negotiation into a death rung are plunge, crashes at 563 miles an hour, 40-degree angle. imagine the devastation of a plane hitting that quickly. it was into -- another unique quirk of the story, didn't just land in an open field.
landed in a reclaimed strip mine. this was an area where the dirt had been dug out, over the years they stripped the coal, and then put the dirt back in. so, it wasn't soft if you walked on it but wasn't as consolidated as regular dense earth and that's right where the plane hit. so when investigators believe happened is that with the force of the impact, the front part of the plane snapped off, shattered into a grove of hemlock trees. that's where a lot of plane debris was found, hijacker information was found, passports. there was an immediate fireball 75 feet in the air, but it didn't burn long because there was not much to burn. the last two-thirds of the plane went into the ground. plowed into the ground. the cockpit voice recorder is located in the back of the plane. ment they found it 25 feet in the ground. they found items 35 feet in the
ground. three and a half basketball -- how hard did that plane hit? the fbi dug 40 feet to make sure they couldn't find anything else. one of the amazing thingses that happened here, this point so different from new york city and d.c. because it landed in small town america, the state police didn't get there first. the fbi didn't get there first. the citizen of somerset county, shankesville, got there first. some saw the plane, they heard the plane, and then the local fire department were there before the authorities. the fbi certainly came in, took over the site, in two weeks they say they found -- gathered 95% of the plane. all in small pieces. one thing that happened, conspiracy theory started -- still people that say they plane didn't crash in shankesville. some is because the early witnesses said there was nothing there. we didn't see anything.
they didn't mean nothing. they were looking for big plane parts and expected to see pieces of the fuselage or the wings. the biggest piece they found was the size of the hood of a car. a piece over the fuselage. the heaviest piece found down a hill was a thousand pound part of an engine fan. everything else was shattered into debris. that is what stunned those people. as for people, they were also looking for first survivors. weren't any of. those bodies. weren't any of those. talked to the county coroner, who was a local -- wally miller, local funeral home director, the national tragedy happened on his ground. he and the investigators concluded there were eight percent of human remains were found. the rest they believe were just vaporized. small remains, nothing more than a hand or foot. that's all they found. wally and local firemen combed the land. before he allowed any family
members down there he didn't want anyone see a piece of human remain so they got 650 pounds, but that was it. the fbi was there for two weeks, made their conclusions, it was maybe the most important investigative site because this plane didn't hit a building. there was more evidence here because of that. because it hit the ground, than there were at the other sites. after two weeks they left. it was turned over to the jurisdiction of the coroner, wally miller, and then the people of the county took over. they started their own basically their own temporary memorial. people just started showing up, people drawn to the site. there was no coordination. they had no tourism. so they had to make it up on their own. they created -- paved a small area, created a temporary memorial. people volunteered as ambassadors to tell as much of the story they could and eventually the national park service came in and they got funding or started funding and they were going to open a national memorial, hopefully on the tenth anniversary those things are never easy.
they had a design competition, they picked a beautiful design and for six months they had to teal with bloggers saying the design was actually a tribute to the terrorists. it wasn't. they had to deal with that. it was land acquisition. eight different people owned the land. they wanted 2200 acres for the project. eight different home owners two companies and six individuals. it took took awhile to negotiat. the federal government had to get involved. a couple places had to file imminent domain and then in 2009 the secretary of the interior game and they got it done and broke ground for the national memorial. it was dedicated on the weekend of the tenth anniversary. the tenth anniversary, september 11 -- that was a sunday. the day before saturday, september 10th, they dedicated this memorial, unvilled the wall of -- unveiled the wall of names. i drove out there that day. there will 4,000 people two presidents on stage, george bush and -- george w. bush and bill
clinton were there doesn't matter your politics. you see two presidents on stage, it's powerful. and they both gave great speeches. they were joined by the sitting vice president, joe biden. i thought on that day -- speeches were great. he gave the most eloquent talk and may have been because it was most personal for him. this plane was almost surely headed toward the capital. a joint session of congress that day. he was in congress. probably was thinking these guys -- if the passengers and crew don't do what they did i might not be here. he went back to the history -- the beginning of the history of the country, he used a line from captain john parker at lexington who said, if they mean to start a war, let it begin here. and the passengers and crew of flight 93 had no idea would about a fight on they're roar but the fought the first battle and that's why we have to honor them and tell the story. thank you, and i'm open to questions.
[inaudible question] >> it was not shut down. throughout history, the history buffs, we should always be skeptical. ask for stories and explanations. i certainly followed a jfk assassination conspiracy for many years. and conspiracy theories are often veryinteresting. but in this case, i can -- there's no evidence it was shot down. can't just say it might have been or there was enough time or certainly the military would have -- that's a lot of the things. no evidence that it happened. multiple people saw flight 93 intact in its final moments this. plane was very low. many people saw it as it flew over the little towns. there was man who saw it go into the ground. he was working in a scrapyard.
nobody saw a plane trail, yet nobody saw anybody fire anything, nobody saw a missile, nobody saw any explosion. the fbi was aware of this potential possibility, in the early moments. they tasked the state police take the helicopter and fly along the flight path there was nothing. they took hundreds of state police officers and the fbi agents and combed thatground. nothing. and the coroner, wally miller said, you know, this isn't a city. this is hunter's haven out here, hunting season starts in a couple of weeks. for a city boy like me this was farmland. you wouldn't -- so nothing has come back. the other thing is, there was -- the norad tapes are available.
they're accessible online. this is not a criticism of the military. everybody what so confused. this never happened before. it's easy to look at history in 20-20 clarity. with hindsight, there was no protocol for shooting down a commercial jetliner. and there were four armed f-16s on the east coast, two over new york and two from langley were assigned to go -- actually, first baltimore because they thought washington would be hit. they first went the wrong way. i you've see the movie. the guy is screaming why are their over the ocean? that's the way they were threatened. trained against foreign threats. not trained to use -- to go against a commercial airliner with american citizens onboard. so, the other thing is you have to remember the timing. it wasn't until the second flight hit the tower that any of us realized we were under attack. that's 9:03. flight 39 crashed at 10:03. that an hour. imagine synthesizing and
processing. also, the 9/11 commission looked into a shoot-down order. the president and vice president did give a shoot-down order but not until after flight 93 crashed. the military was not notified that flight 93 had been hijacked until four minutes after it crashed. the faa knew. the military didn't know. there was nothing in place -- no communication formula in place because they never contemplated before. it happens again we'd be ready. the military folks told the 9/11 commission they were convinced that there were two fighters over washington, dc to protect the -- by 10:00 in the morning. they were convinced if the flight had gone farther and threatened the washington, dc they would have shot it down. the 9/11 commission still isn't sure. they were skeptical. but they were in position. but just to think of it that there would have been f-16s -- there were 4500 planes in the air that point. they all -- there was a ground stop and they were al told to
land but it took two hours to land them. so, 4500 planes all going to different airports. that's a wide ranging answer to that. i think every step of the way there has to be -- it's intriguing to talk about it and everybody is entitled to their opinion. i volunteer at the site and people come out and you respect people's opinion. but that's any opinion and i think you have to go on evidence, and there wasn't any. but thanks for making that the first question. >> how many terrorists took over the plane? >> 19. shake mohammed, the master mind, wanted 26 or 27. they underestimated how difficult it was to get some of these guys into the united states. first of all you had to be willing to martyr yourself, and you had to get in. they got 19. they wanted 20. they want out four five-man teams. there were at least nine men that investigators identified as the potential 20th hijacker.
none of them were able to get in. one almost made it. one flew -- this was -- one time where the immigration service kept one of the hijackers out because these guys had clean passports. they were able to get in saudis in particular. 15 of the 19 were saudis. it was easy for them to get into the country. one was in orlando in august, who is now guantanamo bay, and a very alert immigration official started questioning him and he was belligerent. didn't have any money and didn't know who he was meeting and had a one-way ticket. they sent imback. investigators found out that atta, the mission leader, his car was in the garage at the orlando airport so he was there to pick him up. so he in all likelihood would have been the fifth hijacker on flight 93. we don't know the -- they had four. we can't speculate how much having only four instead of the
five affected flight 93 but might have had something to do with the delay in taking it over. they underestimated -- their planning was evilly brilliant but the understatemented how difficult to get these people in. people ask me issue did you learn anything or what most shocked you? until you investigate it, the brazen way they lived in our country under their own names. they didn't try to use aliases. the used their own identification. it was a cockiness there that they didn't think they were going to get found out. and osama bin laden, we know, was pressuring them early that summer to get it going, get it going, get it going. he was afraid the u.s. authorities would find it out. atta kept saying he needed more time, and go back and forth whether the capital really was
the target. certainly the flight 93 was going to washington, dc. we know that. the debate whether it was the capitol of the white house, guys at guantanamo bay athe capitol. the capitol made sense because the white house -- from al qaeda documents say this -- they thought it would be harder to identify from the sky, which is probably true. the capitol is very final. but -- identifiedable, but also, september 11th, the first week of a joint session of congress, so if you're trying to disrupt the government, to hit the capitol on a day where there's a joint session of congress, potential decapitate the legislative branch of the government seems to be what they were going for. many of these mysteries we can never solve because all those guys are gone, and they didn't write anything about that. but the two plotters who are still in guantanamo bay -- and all the reasonable evidence points to -- or speculation opinions to that.
>> what was the relationship between wally miller and the families of the -- those who crashed on the plane? >> it was amazing. one of the most fascinating afterstories i found, and it really -- that's the difference of, i think, small-town america. especially in new york there were so many more victims in new york. more people on the plane but all those people in the towers. almost 3,000 people died in new york. and the pentagon had more than 100. but here it was these 40, and little somerset county with a guy who was just a funeral home director, and said to his dad thought morning -- his dad started the family business and was the previous coroner of the county, and they're watching the action in new york and the crashes, and wally says to his dad, national being the coroner in new york city today. literally an hour latary plane crashed in his jurisdiction.
he also said, this is very interesting -- one thing-especially for kids, people don't understand why there aren't more photos. it's not that long ago. we didn't -- people didn't have cameras in their cell phones. national how 9/11 -- an event like 9/11 would be different today. how it would be reported and howings in would have gotten out. everybody would have been taking photos. wally miller told me that from the beginning -- until the fbi showed up, which is -- around noon or at afterwards because it took guys a while get there because they had to drive. you can't fly. they didn't make any connection with what was going on in new york city. they were dealing with a crash, a plane had crashed in a field, and they just didn't make the connection. they were bewildered by it. it wasn't until fbi came in. they're not watching tv. they were away -- the people who went out there were away from
television, away from radios. you couldn't check your smartphone. just -- it is one of our challenges at the memorial and the one in new york, explaining that to kids now, because all they know is constant communication, constant social, constant photo taking. there's only one still photo of the aftermath of flight 93. a lady, a mile and a half away in indian lake, heard the plane, felt the tremors, felt the crash, and her camera was on her kitchen tables' she reached oust and took a photo, and it is of a big black smoke cloud, mushroom smoke cloud over the barns and the trees shep was a mile and a half away. that cloud dissipated very quickly. that's the one photo that we have, and as you go to the -- go to the national memorial now, that's the first photo you see when you show up. she named the photo, end of
serenity because it was appropriate and still lives out there. there are two barns that frame that, and she said i look out every day and see those barns, and i think in the blink of an eye i might not have been here. so, the people there are affected, and yet i guess this is a trait of small-town america. you talk to some people from somerset county, wally miller, the assistant fire chief, they don't think they did anything great. their response was phenomenal. they don't think that. rick king told me people from any small town would have done that. maybe so. maybe not. you don't know. i told them, we were sitting in the fire hall and i said, but you did. the point of the story in the book, i think we all ask, what we do in a situation like that, under pressure? tom burnett, who let the counterattack and the acknowledge to take back the plane, was a history buff, he
was once talking too his wife about gettysburg, and he said wonder if i would have that courage to do that. obviously he did. but i think all of us asked that question and you don't know. i wrote about the other three flights. i don't think in any way the people on the other three flights were any his brave. they didn't have the information. they didn't have the time. it happened so quickly. the people on flight 93 did have the time and the knowledge. nonetheless, they still had to do what they did, and it's awe-inspying are and incredible and bee willedderring they came to that conclusion and did what they did. had they started a. earlier when the plane was highering are might have had a chance. it was too low. so when they started the struggle, it was just going to be too quake and they wouldn't be able to save the plane. it is chilling to read that line in the cockpit, if we don't, we'll die. to me that was the one that
underscored that they weren't trying to take the plane down, which was the original speculation. they were trying to save it. >> most of the stories you head of these tragedies are factual. you had unique opportunity and access to families and get a whole different perspective. >> it was -- and my goal in this book was not to speak to every family because the first book in 2002, that was the core of his book, so i didn't want to just rewrite his book, he did such a great job. one thing i learned in studying hoyt and the civil war, the contemporary accounts are the most accurate. as time goes on, and gettysburg, 1863 battle reports are more accurate than in 1888 when they realized hough history was judging them and they tweaked the story a little bit. it's human nature. so, a lot of the stuff about the
flight i tried to use their contemporary accounts and they had done some oral histories a few years after the flight. i was more interested in talking to the family members, the ones involved in the memorial and the aftermath, because i really did think -- when i told people that book didn't end with the flight, they were surpriseed. mam finding that information about your loved ones, hough they all -- in different ways how they found out, how they all got there in matter of days. and some remained very involved out there. some come every few years. some have moved on. everybody handles death differently. we all would. but i was especially interested in talk though ones still involved because they were part of that -- itself was a battle. you like to think it would have been easier to do the memorial there, but one of their challenges was that it wasn't new york and d.c.
and at the trade center, most of the people who died there were from new york. at the pentagon, most of the people who died there were either from d.c. or were living in d.c. nobody from western pennsylvania had died in flight 93, so there was no local core. these were 40 families scattered across the country and the world, and for the people who did it, and it's a tribute, actually, back to the coroner,al miller, he called them together. there was no organizing factor. he was the one who called them together about six months after the flight, and really gave them the tutorial on what happened help thought they really hadn't been told by anybody. and he suggested that they form an organization, and he was really concerned that if they didn't get involved, that there wouldn't be a proper memorial, and he was terrified there would be -- it was rural america and he wanted somebody to oversee the sight. so they give him a lot of credit for neglect catalyst, and like rick king, he wants no credit at
all, but he really was, and he -- i just out at the anniversary ceremony this september 11th. the first one he had shown up for a while. you can see how the families react to him. it is different. it was very personal, and the families here know that their experience was different. so, the whole somerset county, rural pennsylvania, is a very important part of this story. >> the story about tom ridge, a speech he made where he turned to the crowd -- >> i was -- that's -- i was writing about my own experience. that was on the tenth anniversary, september 11, 2011. tom ridge was the featured speaker. the president wasn't to and a quarter. so he was the governor of pennsylvania at the time, and he was on the site a few hours after the crash, and then a few weeks later he was asked by
president bush to be the first secretary of homeland security so very much involved in the story and raised a lot of money. he was giving a speech that day and looked out in and the families had gotten there early, probably 900 family members in chairs and the rest of the people were standing in the mud. it rained all week and was muddy. he wanted the families to know how many people were there, and he said, and i think your presence here is almost as important to the families as the memorial, and the families stood up and were shocked and they gave the people who stood up a standing ovation. it was -- i don't cry much but i started -- i had some tears in my eyes. but you could see how they appreciated -- they hadn't seen -- they were so focused on the stage, and he said the thought that would be the reaction and he wanted to do that. and he went right back to his speech. it tugged on the heart strings.
>> behind the family. >> the families were sitting in front of the stage the rest of us were just standing around on the hillside. in the mud. did i mention the mud? it was very muddy. they hustled to get it -- obviously they really hutle -- the other thing that happened was -- i mention the two days that -- saturday was the dedication, sunday the anniversary. monday morning they closed the memorial two days after it was opened, because they wanted to have a funeral service. each of the families had held their own different services in different plays but wally mill are authority it was important to have a burial site there, and they had three caskets of intermingled and unidentified remains and he talked to the families and they decided they want it buried right at the impact site. so it wasn't open to the public. not a lot of people, nil wrote it here, know that the case, but there are three caskets out
there and he had an actual funeral service for the military honor guard and that meant a lot to the families. it was their kind of final formal act together and wally's final act. they all had the moment together. probably the only cemetery in the world where there will be one burial and that was it. so eventually -- you can't go out there now. you can get to 75 yards from the impact site, but that's now the sacred ground, and only the families can go out there which i think is very appropriate. i also think that in time, i don't know how long time would be, 50, 75 years, it will be like the civil war battle fields. my guess is as long as this generation of family members are here, that's their sacred ground. i think you'll be able to go out there. i was fortunate enough twice to be taken out there, and to go into this part of the
investigation, the research for the book, and to go into the woods, and to have wally tell me where they found certain stuff. it's pretty eerie. opens up your eyes. >> any stone there -- >> there's a large sandstone boulder which is not right there but was in the field. again, 75 yards away, people's first question is, where did it hit? that the first question. so the sandstone boulder marks writ hit and the baskets -- caskets right in front of that you see it from a distance. it's a very solemn and humbling place. as one who volunteers there, people are different when they leave. to see people coming in, laughing and chattering, and they're different when they've leave. it's that kind of memorial. it's not a monument. they did not want that. they wanted it to be a landscape memorial to not look like it would look in new york city or washington, dc. they wanted it to look like the rural field in
somerset county where the plane crashed. there's a wall of names, one stone -- one piece of the wall with each member of the passengers and crew names, and that marks the flight path, and in next anniversary finally, they've gotten enough money and they will complete he memorial with a visitor center and learning center. that's one thing we don't have out there right now. and that will enhance the experience ex-especially for young people because it can tell the story. we as volunteers are told to be reactive north pro-active, because people react different ways but that will be -- >> up on the hill? >> yes, yes. that's what they're doing. your actually come in and walk down the flight path. that was the architect's original intent. they just didn't have enough money at the beginning and they wanted to get something open on the tenth anniversary. they thought at that time was important. so they opened the first part of the national memorial but it's not complete and won't be
complete until next year. >> very similar to the vietnam wall. >> for a lot of people whoa come, who draw that conclusion. >> in d.c., where they're placing things in front of the names. >> yes, yes. >> those things that are being placed there and going back to the original when they just had the guards, the guardrails, that's all going -- >> there's a fence out there, there wasn't much of the original temporary memorial there was a fence and people just wanted to leave things, and every day they would leave things, and they had somebody from the somerset county historical society go and collect them and save them, and they have over 60,000 items over the years people have left. they can't display all 60,000, they're going rotate some of those items. as a volunteer, that's the single -- other than where did the flight crash, it's where are those items. people remember the fence and some mad the fence isn't there but they thought it was a stat
static fence. it wasn't just one set of items. 60,000 items. so -- but they did -- and there's still little nooks in the pathway now where people leave things and again with the names you see flowers and notes from family members, and it's that kind of place. a lot of people come up from d.c., and they draw the comparison with the -- i think it's similar to the vietnam memorial. >> 24 stewardesses from united that were out there. >> there's a little bit of a pilgrimage there, as it should be, and it means something. i find it interesting out there when a pilot or a flight attendant is there. you can try to do the research but you don't have their perspective. air traffic controller, they really have -- it's like going to gettysburg with a military man. they understand more than we can. >> your decision to have the proceed goes to the memorial,
how will that advance their able to do the things they're talking about. >> i am donating my author's proceeds to the memorial. didn't want to make money on this project. and i think a lot of it -- there will be one little piece of the brick and more tar of -- more tar they have to build. a tower of voices at the entrance but a lot of it -- the money will go to education. the want too have educational programs. once they have a visitor center they can do the programs they wanted to do, and i think as time goes on -- it is striking when you see the middle school children who go out there who just have no recollection. such an important day and memorable day in our lives, but everybody from now on isn't going to have that memory, so we have to do a better job of teaching and not allow that to happen. so of that will go into the education, youth programs, getting people involved. it is -- at the people who go
there are interesting. it's not in the city. it's 20 miles off the turnpike. i'm always impressed when people people go there because you have want to go there you just stumble across the memorial. i thought that it underscored what i thought was a need for the book. even people who are interested enough to go out there, i found they really didn't know a lot of the story. i think after a few days, after these big events, people go on with their lives and a lot of this in here -- it isn't -- each individually might not be new but nobody put it together. all this stuff was available but you have to do 100 different places and people can now find it. one of the things that got me going on this is when i heard they had done this oral histories. the staff ute there has done hundreds of oral histories, family members, first responders, everybody affected,
and i said to them, before i decided to write it, it's great you've did this work but somebody has to write this. we can do it but -- and they're public, but people don't know to ask and it takes a lot to read through all those. so, hopefully if this book serves a purpose other than telling the story, maybe it ill inspire somebody else to write a book. i can do better, from a different angle. 150 years later we're city writing books about gettysburg, so there has to be more written about this day, and more information is out there, more information than we ever had before. so maybe somebody else will try to do it. >> when you interviewed the first responders, people from to somerset county, where did most of your interviewing take place? >> out there on the phone, oral historyish. there was no -- when you're doing a book and you have a full-time job, you do it whenever you can.
so a little out there. some of the people who now work or volunteer at the memorial were those people. they'd been involved since the early days. they have become my friends, and i felt more comfortable with talking to them. sometimes justify over the phone because i knew them. somebody didn't know i wanted to meet them in person. but you do it as you -- and i've been involved in a couple of sports books but it's like doing a high school book report compared to this. i've heard people say this but you're researching as you're going. you're learning things as you're going. i went back and rewrote some things because i found more information. as i was going. and the book takes -- i looked at my original book proposal and the chapters aren't the same. as you're writing it, as you're researching, feeling the story, you make changes, too, and -- that's the other thing about somebody else maybe writing a book. i probably read ten books about the charge. the same information but every author is a little different.
be interesting -- these are things -- i tried tell the whole story but these are things i'm interested in, the story is thought were interesting, and people should know. i end the book with a story about first graders at the shankesville stoney creek school and their teacher, a few weeks after, wasn't sure if the first graders really flood what happened. the talked -- really understood what happened. they talked about it. and the looked out the window one day at recess and the boys're were playing flight 93 and they were safing the plane and beating back the bad guys and the plane was never taken down. the reason i tell the story, that's the first oral history i read. and i'm going read this one. and i thought, i'm probably not going to get anything out of it. i read that story, this is two years ago and i said to myself, that's the ending of the book. as a writer, even for a newspaper story or book, you sometimes think, it doesn't
work, you have to -- but i thought it worked beautifully. i thought it summed it up, of the legacy of they day, moving on, and that was one of the people asked me, what sticks out? is there a thousand little stories like that, that all kind of stick out. >> see your book final claim out and it's not easy for a -- someone who hasn't written a book to get a book published, is it? >> no. the accomplish. for anybody who wants to write a book, try, but you never know. i had no credentials to write this, other than i was a history buff and nobody nobody had done it. hope more people do that. it's -- you have to get a little bit lucky and have to have
something who believes in you, an editor and a publishing company who believed and wanted to do it, and it's a -- quite a process, and i can tell you it's tough giving up the book at the end. you're making changes and making changes about march, and that was it, and i said to me editor, any mistakes i made are history. >> the cover of the book is fabulous. did you design that? >> no. i really like it. i know they have a designer who did it. obviously the author involved. they don't give you final veto power but they wanted me to like it. it wasn't -- there's not an automatic cover for a story like this. because there's no singular image of flight 93. there's a sing already image of the world trade center or the pentagon. there really isn't one here. we looked at a full plane and i didn't like that, and it was a
field, and unless it was the actual field -- i thought their idea of having a sky and a little hint of a plane kind of was perfect. they dartled red, white and blue. and the other interesting thing i learned about book titles. i think a lot of us -- you go through the book stores and see fancy titles. i had some titles thrown out there, and the editor didn't like them, and he asked me, what is the book about? we're a year in. what the book about? said, flight 93. he said, that's the title then. which made a lot of sense. we can get all creative about what the title should be, september patriots or whatever. it's about flight 93. so that's what we did. i've read a thousand history books. things just don't think of until you do this you. think about the industry but -- i learned a lot. that was part of the process.
thank you, guys. appreciate you coming out. [applause] >> this the night of september 9th, 2009, still a lie high popular president. spoke to a joint session of congress and there was in the air with tennessee williams big daddy might have called the powerful and obnoxious odor of -- and among the lines that were trotted out that night was this one: nothing in this plan
will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. let me repeat this. nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have. now, at the time obama said this he may have thought it was true. and yet i went back and checked the record on this, and within two days of that announcement, there were serious dissent in major publications that the white house had to be aware of. saying, no, it's impossible you can't do this. the first time we give him a pass. the next 45 times no, pass. but that is not what got him riled up. may have been a number of things but when obama denounce the fall the claim that the healthcare system would insure illegal immigrants, wilson could hold his tongue no longer and yelled
out "you lie." and all hell broke loose. go back and watch the video. what happened for the first anytime 20 years, nancy pelosi actually raised her eyebrows. she is sitting behind him. [laughter] >> i didn't think that was possible. joe biden literally started -- you can hear him, tsk, tsk. obama loses his place on the tell prompter, we is so shaken by this, which could be a disaster. then there's a collective gasp out of the democrats in the house, like, oh! and it's the kind that follow falls in the schoolyard by, i'm telling. which is what they did. afterwardded the republicans rush to the microphones to apologize, and the democrats rushed to the direct mail vendors to make money off this.
that's how is broke out. i likeed the response of james clyburn, hi eh called the behavior totally disrespectful, which i probably was in a sense, and a new low for the state's congressional delegation. representative clyburn has not studied south carolina history very closely. those who know your history -- in 1856, press ton brooks, congressman from south carolina, upset by the abolitionist talk from sumner in the run from massachusetts, went over to the senate with his' buddy and clubbed senator sumner nearly to death. disabledded him for several years, and his fellow congressmen held off would-be helpers as pistol point. that was a low. there's no -- you can't get much lower than that. put history has never been a
strong suit of our progressive friends. anyhow, mixed in the hubbub was -- the nature of his location, he didn't say, that's a lie, how said, you lie, like a declaration of the man, five years ahead of his time before anyone else caught on, and it's like sinatra sings, obama lies. it was that natural a declaration. ...
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