Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Monday, at the memorial for Flight 93, the fourth plane involved in the September 11th attacks.
Pence got emotional as he spoke of the Flight 93 passengers' heroism, telling his audience that because those passengers took on a group of terrorists who hijacked their plane, forcing the plane down in a field in Pennsylvania, he and many other members of Congress are alive today.
"They might well have saved my own life," Pence said, as he visibly held black tears.
Pence: Because of the heroes on Flight 93, I and many others were able to return home from the U.S. Capitol that day pic.twitter.com/xJK2B4i0mc— Axios (@axios) September 11, 2017
“I'm also here to pay a debt of gratitude to the heroes of Flight 93 on a much more personal basis. For their actions on that day in these skies saved American lives and as my wife, Karen, who joins me here today knows, it's a debt I don't think I'll ever be able to repay," Pence said in his speech. "Because among the many lives that were saved by their selfless courage, they might well have saved my own life that day 16 years ago.”
Pence went on to describe speaking to a park ranger at the Flight 93 memorial just one year after the attacks, and finding out that the US Capitol building, where Pence was scheduled to be that morning, was the fourth plane's intended target.
“I asked her if the U.S. Capitol was, in fact, the target, what time would the plane have reached the Capitol building? And what she told me I'll never forget. For at the time, she said standing with hundreds of others, I was standing near the East Front of the House of Representative," Pence recalled. "I will always believe that ,I and many others in our nation's capital, were able to go home that day to hug our families because of the courage and selflessness of the heroes of Flight 93. So for me it's personal. And I speak on behalf of a grateful nation.”
Sixteen years ago, the passengers on Flight 93 gathered in the back of the United Airlines flight, aware that hijackers, who had stormed the cockpit less than an hour into the flight, intended to fly the plane into a target in Washington, D.C. Taking a vote, the passengers agreed to fight the hijackers for control of the plane, and while they were not able to make a safe landing, they were able to force the flight down in a field just outside Somerset County, Pennsylvania, far from the terrorists' intended target.