A Closer Look At Shanksville, PA Ten Years After 9/11

9:04 AM, Sep 11, 2011   |    comments
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Shanksville, PA -- Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has changed in many ways, but life remains the same in a tiny town thrust into the national spotlight.

The way we travel has changed. The way we look at terrorism has changed. Security in New York City, in Washington and at the Pentagon has changed.

However, the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the final resting place for those 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, has not changed.

The town of 250 people in rural Pennsylvania still has one store, one intersection, no street lights, and four churches, just like it did ten years ago.

"Everyone's friendly and wonderful. It's known as a friendly little town," said Kristi Swank.

Like the other 249 people in Shanksville, Swank knows that what happened just a mile down the road, put this little town in the same sentence with New York City, Washington, D.C. and terrorism.

"Who would have thought in a little town like this, something like that would happen, but it did," she said.

Over the last ten years, the people of Shanksville have come to embrace their role as part of history.

"It was a little bit difficult at first, dealing with all of that. There were only a few people in town who felt comfortable talking to the media. I didn't at first," said Rick King, who was the assistant chief of the Shanskville Volunteer Fire Department on September 11, 2001.

King said while New York City and the Pentagon have media handlers, in Shanksville, they don't. So what happened on that day because their responsibility.

"We felt it was our duty to tell the story, especially when we found out what happened on that plane and what the passengers did. And then I think we took an honor in telling that story," said King.

Part of that story today is how the family called Shanksville, Pennsylvania grew to include the families of those who died on Flight 93.

"In the beginning, I think they helped us through our ordeal here. But I think more so, we helped them what they were going through and their grief," he said.

As the months and years passed, Shanksville accepted its place in American and world history. The passengers aboard the the plane fought back against highjackers. And because of their courage, instead of crashing into the Capitol or the White House, it crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.

"They knew that if they didn't act, there were going to die. They knew what that plane was going to be used for. Through cell phone calls to their loved ones, they knew what was going on in New York and Washington. And they knew if they did act, they were probably still going to die. And we know what they did, that's pretty special," said King.

Shanksville today is now part of a pilgrimage for people paying their respects.

"It takes me ten minutes normally to mow my yard. In the summertime, I'm shutting it off probably ten times because I'm giving directions to people. Other than that, it hasn't changed. We're the same," said King.

Although the town has been forever changed by terrorism, heroes and happenstance, King said life goes on.

"We're still the same. I mean we go on, we live life. We raise our children. We coach little league, we coach basketball and we have picnics," he said.

In that regard, Shanksville today is the same as it was on September 10, 2001.

WFMY News 2

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