SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Ceremonies in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a western Pennsylvania field are a reminder that the nation hasn't forgotten the 9/11 attacks and offer a chance for the victims' families to remember and recover, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday.
"We wish we weren't here. We wish we didn't have to be here. We wish we didn't have to commemorate any of this," Biden told relatives and guests at the memorial for United Airlines Flight 93, the jet on which passengers fought hijackers for control before it crashed near Shanksville.
Still, Biden said, "I imagine you all find solace in seeing one another. There's nothing like being able to talk with someone who you know understands," Biden said before participating in a wreath-laying at the memorial about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
The names of the 40 passengers and crew were read aloud at 10:03 a.m. — the moment the airplane crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. Investigators later determined the four terrorists aboard planned to pilot the airliner to Washington, D.C., where another airplane crashed into the Pentagon.
After the ceremony, the victims' families and friends were invited to walk through a gate and along a path where the plane crashed.
"You have to show respect and thanks and that's what really goes through my mind," Jerry Bingham said about visiting the site where his son Mark died. "Mainly, I feel presence — that's really it — I feel closer to him."
Biden said he understood that 11 years have not dimmed the memories of those lost, nor the impact felt by their families.
"Today is just as momentous a day for all of you ... for each of your families, as any Sept. 11 has ever been," he said.
"I also hope it continues to give you some solace that this nation, that all of the people who are gathered here today who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they have not forgotten," Biden said.
Bells of remembrance were rung by surviving family members and community members who became involved in the aftermath of the crash.
Eleven years after the attacks, the Flight 93 memorial remains unfinished. Among projects still incomplete are an educational center and a 93-foot tower with a wind chime for each passenger and crew member.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the goal is for the memorial to be complete by the 15th anniversary.