For ten years, the unidentified remains of the forty passengers and crew of Flight 93 sat in three caskets stored away in a mausoleum. Today, the families buried the coffins on the sacred ground where Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Somerset County, September 11, 2001.
"It's our duty to assure that to the maximum extent possible, all of those forty people are, in a sense, together, embracing one another in eternity, and that is the site; that is the place where that needs to be," said Patrick White, a relative of Louis J. Nacke, who died on Flight 93.
Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller was among the first on the scene ten years ago, and has been taking care of the human remains and personal items found near the impact zone ever since. For him, the Flight 93 crash site is like the battleground at Gettysburg, about 100 miles east. He likens himself and his crew to the farmers of Emmitsburg, who lived just south of where the great Civil War battle took place.
"[A]ll of a sudden it was over, and there was a lot to clean up and take care of, and they were left to do it, and that's what they did. I'm sure they were just like we were, just regular Americans that wanted their land to heal as best they could. I'm sure that that's what they did. That's what we did," said Miller.
"It is a private moment, and this is a private moment, and the last two days [the family members] opened up and allowed the public into everything, but I think that they—we owe it to them on this final day to let this be a private affair."
The remains were placed in the ground near the seventeen ton boulder placed in the field to mark the exact spot where the plane hit.
"I've said all along that this is a cemetery, and now it truly will be. There will actually be vaulted caskets in their graves. It's going to be three true graves there," said Miller.
The men and women who died on Flight 93 apparently broke into the cockpit of their plane in an effort to wrest control from four terrorist hijackers. While they were not successful in regaining control of the plane, they have been praised as heroes. Many feel the Boeing 757-200's intended target was the Capitol building where the crash could have killed hundreds, if not thousands of private citizens and government officials.