[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/29/flight.dispute/art.flight93land.cnn.jpg caption="This plot of land is scheduled to house the permanent Flight 93 memorial."]
David Mattingly | BIO
To me, the most powerful image of 9/11 will always be the large, blackened pit outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I was vacationing in Altoona, Pa. at my mother-in-law's house when the attacks happened. When the reports first came in of a plane crash in Shanksville, I remember the immediate confusion I felt and the questions that came to mind: Was the crash a coincidence? How could it be part of the attack? Why Shanksville?
Details came in slowly that day but it soon became clear that the passengers of Flight 93 fought back against their hijackers. Their bravery prevented the jet from reaching it's apparent destination to a target in Washington, DC.
Knowing this, it was almost overwhelming to see the crash site for the first time. All I could see were some small pieces of debris scattered around the impact crater. The destruction was so complete there was nothing I could identify as a piece of an aircraft.
Like many frequent flyers, the Flight 93 passengers' actions touched me deeply. The thought of how easily that could have happened to me still resonates. I've never stopped wondering if I have what it takes to rise up in the face of death they way they did. I still think about them every time I board a plane.
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