Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and General Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.), honorary co-chairs of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, issued the following statement for Presidents' Day:
"What better time than Presidents' Day, when America celebrates those who have held its highest office, to remember the heroes who protected targets such as the White House or the Capitol from a terrorist attack? The 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 changed history on September 11, 2001 when they fought back to take control of their plane, diverting it from its intended targets, and crashing into the remote fields outside of Shanksville, Pa.
"We are making great progress on this important memorial. With the groundbreaking behind us and the first construction contract awarded, the memorial has entered a new building phase that will culminate with its dedication on September 11, 2011.
"More than 57,000 donors - both large and small from across the nation and around the world - have raised over $17 million for the memorial. Another $28 million in public funds are expected toward the estimated $58 million cost of the memorial's first phase. We hope all Americans will consider lending their support and building on the growing momentum for this important symbol of our democratic values on this key national holiday.
"Like some of our greatest presidents, the heroes of Flight 93 risked all and gave all to protect and preserve our freedoms. Americans can appropriately honor these heroes and ensure their actions are remembered by helping to build the Flight 93 National Memorial."
The Flight 93 National Memorial is the only national park unit dedicated to the events of September 11, 2001. The memorial park sits on 2,231 acres in Somerset County, site of the plane's crash, approximately 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. The memorial will include the final resting places of the heroes as well as visitor facilities and related infrastructure.
For information on how to contribute to the memorial, visit www.honorflight93.org.