The first Americans to hit back at Al-Qaeda on September 11 will be eulogised as heroes on Monday, five years after a passenger revolt forced down a fourth hijacked jet short of its target.
President George W Bush will join tributes to passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, which slammed into a Pennsylvania field, 18 to 20 minutes flying time short of its presumed target, Washington.
Passengers had learned of the unfolding 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon after calling relatives on cellphones, and were captured on a cockpit tape trying to overpower hijackers before their plane plummeted to earth.
Several hundred people travelled to a temporary memorial overlooking the crash site in western Pennsylvania yesterday, looking on silently as the sun periodically breached gray clouds and bathed a large Stars and Stripes placed at the point of impact in golden light.
Many wept, or bowed their heads, others sat quietly on brown, wooden benches engraved with names of victims.
"It is very heartbreaking to see a site where we lost so many of our fellow Americans," said Korean war veteran Tom Restak, from Rochester, Pennsylvania, making his first visit to the crash site.
His wife Margaret, added as tears brimmed in her eyes: "This is so very sad, but I just had to come."
The crash was overshadowed at the time by horrifying scenes at New York's World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, turned into horrific infernos by fuel-laden airliners steered on suicide missions by hijackers.