United attendants face long wait at Flight 93 Memorial

United attendants face long wait at Flight 93 Memorial

This article was originally posted on ABC 27 News on September 11, 2018. 

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) - Forty brave people sacrificed their lives to save countless others when they helped to bring down United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Seventeen years later, thousands made their way to Shanksville to honor those who died. Unfortunately, for some, getting inside was easier said than done.

Cindy Rhoden is one of many who waited to get into the Flight 93 memorial in time for the ceremony. She is a United flight attendant, part of a group that was invited to attend.

"We all carry flowers and lay it at the markers," she said, "We're here to represent the crew and show respect, to always remember and never forget."

Group members came from all over the country and arrived in Shanksville by bus. But because of Secret Service precautions surrounding President Donald Trump's visit, buses weren't immediately allowed in.

Rhoden and the others turned to complete strangers for help.

"All these nice people have offered to take us in their individual cars," she said.

"I feel bad. My heart's aching for these people," said Cindy Townsend. "10:03 is when the plane crashed and they don't want to miss that because they can't get that back."

After an hour, the flight attendants decided to hold their own ceremony on the side of the road. That's when they were finally allowed in, or so they thought.

Their excitement quickly turned to more waiting. Impatience turned to grief.

"I lost my cousin in the South Tower," flight attendant Ken Diaz said, "so this day is an emotional day for me."

Caitlyn is a park ranger from Gettysburg. She's here to help on this special day, but there's nothing more she can do.

Finally, the buses arrive. The President takes off, and the flight attendants can reach their destination.

"We've been coming every year and we'll continue coming every year," said Diaz, "They were our heroes."

"They can pay their respects," said Caitlyn, "That's the goal."

Caitlyn says her emotions sometimes get the better of her, but even more so today. She really wanted those flight attendants to be able to pay their respects.

Even though it was a little later than they hoped, that's exactly what they did.

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