“A common field one day. A field of honor forever.”

By Sedonia Martin on September 10, 2017

TU alumna Honor Elizabeth Wainio ’95 was a passenger on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Looking out over the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Looking out over the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the United States came under attack when four commercial airliners were hijacked and used to strike targets on the ground. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the tragedy. Because of the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard one of the planes, Flight 93, the attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted.

During the summer, we visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Towson University had one of our own on that flight, Honor Elizabeth Wainio ’95.

The solemnity of the memorial is overwhelming in size and silence. Visitors speak in whispers while walking past the timeline of the day’s unforgettable events. TV monitors run news coverage on a loop; we watched again and again the planes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City.

Join us at the 2017 ceremony honoring the victims of 9/11 [PDF]

A Desperate Decision

Flight 93 took off at 8:42 a.m. from Newark, New Jersey, heading to San Francisco, California with 37 passengers and 7 crew members. At 9:28 a.m., the hijackers, wearing red bandanas, broke into the cockpit and disabled the flight crew and a flight attendant. After taking control of the plane, the hijackers turned the plane around and headed to Washington, D.C., for what was believed an attempt to crash the plane into the White House.

The hijackers herded the passengers of Flight 93 to the rear of the plane. From there these amazing men and women developed their plan to derail the hijackers.

After making final calls to loved ones, the passengers stormed the cockpit.

Because the hijackers had unknowing left the FAA communication channel open, all inflight communications were recorded including the final moments when the passengers forced the hijackers to crash the plane.

Flight 93 Visitor’s Center

The Flight 93 National Memorial includes the final flight path, memorial wall, a grove of trees and the resting place of the plane and the passengers’ remains.

The display includes artifacts from the crash site, twisted pieces of silverware, fragments of seating and plane parts, quotes, provided by their families, of the passengers’ final call to their loved ones, including Wainio's, and the “Wall of Faces”—photos of the passengers and crew frozen in time, staring back with beaming smiles.

A haunting part of the visitor’s center are the Airfones, where, after reading the caution statement, one can listen to the final calls of the passengers. The chilling coolness of the flight attendants, maintaining their professional composure despite knowing the outcome, are truly unforgettable.

Our friend, traveling with us, came away feeling angry. “I’m mad” he said. “How could those people do that to our country and the people on that plane?”

I suppose that is one way of looking at the horror; however, I’d like to believe that, on that day, the passengers and crew on that plane were simply extraordinary.

The Towson University Alumni Association is hosting the Annual Honor Elizabeth Wainio ’95 Communication Scholarship Fundraiser, Saturday, October 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Ropewalk Tavern, Federal Hill, 1209 S. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland. The fundraiser and silent auction celebrates the life of Honor Elizabeth Wainio ’95 and raises funds for current TU Communications students to achieve their dreams.

Ticket are $50 per person of which $35 is a tax deductible contribution to the scholarship. The event is open to the public. For tickets or to make a donation visit: www.tutigertracks.com/wainio2017.