HARRISBURG — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to visit the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville next week as the nation prepares to remember the victims of 9/11 on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the National Park Service said Tuesday.
Panetta will take a private tour of the memorial Monday, a day before the September 11 anniversary. He will then speak briefly to reporters, the park service said.
Patrick White, the president of a group representing victims’ families, Families of Flight 93, said in a statement that they are deeply grateful for Panetta’s visit and that it underscores the need to complete the memorial for the 40 passengers and crew members.
“The heroic actions of the Flight 93 passengers and crew members strengthened America,” White said. “Secretary Panetta’s visit underscores their remarkable, patriotic contribution to this nation, as well as the need to complete the memorial.”
United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked by four terrorists. The 9/11 Commission said the terrorists likely wanted to crash the plane into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, but the jet went down in a field near Shanksville, as passengers and crew fought back.