(WTAJ) — Most of us who were alive on September 11, 2001, remember where we were and what we were doing when the news broke that day.
A series of planes hitting some of our nation’s most iconic and important buildings. And in a rural Pennsylvania field, one flight crashed down at the hands of 40 brave passengers and crew on board.
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Twenty years later, family members are sharing their stories, keeping the memories of their loved ones alive.
For family members, the devastation of September 11th is as clear today as it was two decades ago. As each plane hit its intended target, the threat became more evident. At 9:45 a.m., all aircraft in the United States were ordered to land at the nearest airport. When Gordon Felt heard that news, he became frightened.
“I knew my brother was traveling that morning. I got a call from Sandy, his wife, saying that Ed was already in the air, on United Airlines Flight 93. She hadn’t heard anything from United, and she was trying to get information,” Gordon said.
He described his 41-year-old brother as brilliant. Ed was a computer engineer and technology director at a software company and had earned degrees from Colgate and Cornell Universities. He also acquired two patents in the field of encryption technology.
“Ed loved solving problems, he loved communicating, he loved helping people. And he was a very gentle man,” Gordon remembers.
But beyond the professional success and the intellectual curiosity, what was most important to Ed, was his family, his wife and two daughters.
Gordon described Ed’s relationship with his daughters as magical, saying, “Ed would do anything for his daughters, take up running, take piano lessons, because he wanted to share the experiences that they loved, their hobbies.”
On the morning of September 11, Ed’s wife and his brother were anxiously was waiting to hear from him.
“I called Ed, as soon as I got off the phone with Sandy, and said, ‘Call us as soon as you touch down. We’re concerned. We want to hear that you’re safe,’ and it wasn’t until the second call from Sandy, that I realized that Ed was gone, that the plane came down, and that there were no survivors,” Gordon said, sadly.
It was later, that Gordon and the world learned of the extraordinary action taken by the passengers and crew of Flight 93 before the fatal descent.
When the plane changed course, some of them, knowing something was wrong, called their families, and learned of the other hijacked jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One of the very last acts of Ed Felt’s life was his call from Flight 93 to 911.
According to Gordon, the FBI believes that Ed was trying to help establish where the plane was and where it was heading. Gordon believes Ed, the problem solver, was involved in efforts by the passengers to decide what to do.
“This group of 40 people decided to choose what path they were going to take in a democratic way, and they voted to fight, and they took it to the terrorists. And we’ve always said that our loved ones weren’t victims, they were heroes. They fought back and although they lost their lives that morning, there’s no question that they made one of the darkest days in our history, less dark,” Gordon stated proudly.
Twenty years after the events of 9/11 Gordon is calling on the country to remember what American heroes did that day–the passengers of Flight 93 who kept their plane from striking the U.S. Capitol building, the first responders who risked their own lives to save others at the towers and he adds that it’s important that Americans never forget how we all came together.