SHANKSVILLE, Pa. – Three caskets of unidentified remains from the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 were buried Monday in a private ceremony that filled the air with bagpipes, taps and a three-gun salute.
Some family members of the 40 passengers and crew who died on Sept. 11, 2001, faced difficult memories, but also said they felt a sense of closure.
The remains had been maintained in a crypt for the last 10 years before the interment ceremony at the newly rechristened Flight 93 National Memorial.
"I thought about the sadness, looking up at the sky. The wind was blowing. It was such a beautiful day," just like the one 10 years ago, said Carole O'Hare, whose mother Hilda Marcin was traveling to California to live with her daughter.
"There's definitely peace of mind. I was always concerned about what would happen with the unidentified remains," O'Hare said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press after the ceremony. "And now my feeling is they're at peace and where they are meant to be."
After a weekend that saw thousands of visitors, President Barack Obama and his two predecessors attend the dedication of the national memorial, a rabbi, a Buddhist sensei, a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister officiated at the private burial. After the religious leaders spoke, the Somerset County Honor Guard played taps, and the American flags on each of the three dark brown caskets were folded and given to those in attendance.
Nearly 500 people attended the ceremony, including the family members, police, fire and emergency workers who had responded to the crash. The park was closed to the public to give them privacy.
Family members and mourners placed flowers on the caskets. The ceremony took place at what's called the Sacred Ground site in the field at the national park.
Jerry Bingham, the father of victim Mark Bingham, said in a telephone interview that the service was "done just right."
He thanked Somerset Coroner Wallace Miller, a funeral director, for taking care of the unidentified remains and for all his work with the family members.
"He's just a fantastic man. We're just glad that Wally Miller was here. He took care of us families and took us under his wing. We're very fortunate," Bingham told AP.
The passengers and crew died after fighting with hijackers aboard the plane, which crashed near Shanksville.
Begos reported from Pittsburgh.
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