PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Family members witnessed the burial on Monday of unidentified human remains recovered at the crash site of Flight 93, a day after the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The burial was part of a private memorial service attended by nearly 500 relatives of the victims, first responders and other guests at the newly unveiled Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, said Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the Families of Flight 93 group.
Flight 93 was bound for San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, when passengers stormed the cockpit and attempted to wrest control of the aircraft from hijackers. Investigators believe the hijackers were planning to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol or the White House.
Military service members, police officers and first responders who had worked at the crash site carried the three caskets of unidentified human remains draped with American flags to the front of a tent-covered stage used for ceremonies over the weekend, said Carole O’Hare, whose mother, Hilda Marcin, died on Flight 93.
Among the speakers were Somerset County Coroner Wally Miller and clergy members representing the faiths of the passengers and crew — a rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister and a Buddhist priest, she said.
The caskets were taken in hearses to the nearby crash site, marked by a large boulder in a field of wildflowers. Family members and other guests followed in a procession led by a bagpiper, she said.
At the crash site clergy members spoke and the Buddhist priest burned incense and blessed the caskets, said O’Hare. Military service members fired a three-gun salute and played “Taps.”
At the end of the service, the bagpiper walked behind family members and into the woods, playing a plaintive melody that faded as he moved into the distance, O’Hare said.
Family members were given roses that they placed on the caskets. Some brought their own flowers.
“It was the most moving service of this type that I’d ever been to,” said O’Hare, who had traveled from Danville, California. “For me it just puts them to rest where I’ve always felt they should be.”
Sandy Felt, whose husband Edward Porter Felt was among the Flight 93 victims, said she was “very moved” by the ceremony.
“I heard from a lot of family members that it was a very healing experience for them,” she said. “For me, today was the heart and soul of the weekend. This is why I came.”
One of the three flags that covered the caskets will be placed in a visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial, while the other two will be sent to memorials dedicated to other September 11 attacks in Washington and New York, she said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)
Corrects spelling of name of Carole O'Hare