First Lady Jill Biden Speaks at 9/11 Flight 93 Memorial


First Lady Jill Biden began her speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Katie Lewis, Staff Writer

The atmosphere in Shanksville, PA was somber last Sunday as First Lady Jill Biden began her speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial, marking the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Three Villanova student journalists — seniors Olivia Pasquale, Tommy Lynch, and Zac Tipton — attended the memorial as members of AKSM Media’s White House Correspondents Team.

The memorial honors the lives of 40 passengers and crew who died on United Flight 93 after they disrupted four hijackers, causing the plane to crash in the Shanksville field and thwarting an attack on Washington, D.C. The memorial site was designated a national park in 2002 and includes a Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, Memorial Groves, and Field of Honor. The site’s newest addition is the 40 wind chimes of the Tower of Voices, completed in 2020.

At Sunday’s ceremony, Biden was notably accompanied by her sister, Bonny Jacobs, a United Airlines flight attendant who lost colleagues and friends in the attack. The ceremony focused on honoring the lives and legacies of the victims.

During her remarks, Biden recalled her perspective on the events of 9/11, speaking about the weight of the tragedy and the courage of those on board Flight 93, and passed on a hopeful message before walking the field to lay a wreath in honor of the victims.

“It showed us that we are all connected to one another,” Biden said. “So as we stand on this sacred and scarred earth, a record of our collective grief and a monument to the memories that live on each day, this is the legacy we must carry forward: hope that defies hate.”

Pasquale, Lynch, and Tipton reported for AKSM Media on the events of the ceremony, which took place approximately three and a half hours from the Villanova campus. The media company, based locally in King of Prussia, has press, film, and photography branches and aims to give students opportunities to gain experience in these career fields.

“I spent the entirety of the ceremony taking notes and getting quotes for my article,” said Lynch, who recently joined the White House Correspondents Team after the owner of AKSM Media, Andrew McKeough ‘19, spoke to his broadcast journalism class.

Pasquale was behind the camera, and Tipton served as Senior White House Producer for AKSM alongside other journalists covering the event. The student journalists were also able to speak with the National Park Service rangers who organized the memorial ceremony.

“The 9/11 memorial was the first event I covered as a Senior White House Photojournalist,” Pasquale said. “It was truly challenging to maintain professionalism while also photographing the family members of the Flight 93 victims, and no photo could adequately capture the grief and heartbreak.”

For the three student journalists, attending the memorial was more than a reporting assignment, as the speakers and solemn park atmosphere allowed all those in attendance to reflect on the tragedy and pay respects to the victims and their brave sacrifice, which potentially saved hundreds of more lives from the 9/11 attacks.

“All forty passengers voted on whether they should storm the cockpit or not. They also purposely waited until they were away from buildings and towns to fight back in order to limit the casualties to themselves,” Lynch said. “Everyone on that plane was and still is a hero.”