USS Somerset: A tribute to passengers of Flight 93

USS Somerset is the US Navy's latest amphibious transport dock warship. The USS Somerset is named after the Pennsylvania county where United Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

A new U.S. Navy ship named to honor 40 passengers and crew killed when their hijacked United Airlines flight crashed as they fought with terrorists during the Sept. 11 attacks was put into service in Philadelphia Saturday.

The USS Somerset is named for the southwestern Pennsylvania county where Flight 93 crashed. With its 684-foot starboard side serving as the backdrop, the amphibious transport dock warship was formally commissioned in front of more than 5,000 spectators at Penn's Landing.

"What we commemorate is not that war or an attack on America," said Sen. Pat Toomey. "We commemorate the day America began to fight back."

The Somerset is the third ship to be named in honor of 9/11 victims, joining the USS New York and USS Arlington, which honor those killed in the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon during the attacks.

After its crew manned the ship, the Somerset's commanding officer, Capt. Thomas Dearborn, said, "Somerset, let's roll," paying homage to Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer's famous rallying cry. Beamer helped lead the passenger rebellion that led to the plane crashing about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Investigators believe the hijackers planned to target the White House or Capitol.

The Somerset was christened in Avondale, La., at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in 2012 and delivered to the U.S. Navy in October 2013. It has been docked in Philadelphia for more than a week and was scheduled to depart Tuesday for its home port in San Diego.

For some of the victims' families in attendance, the ship symbolized a memorial of their loved ones, but didn't ease the pain of losing them.

"I'd rather have him instead of the ship," Rodrick Thornton, 68, of Radcliff, Ky., said of his cousin LeRoy Homer Jr., the first officer of Flight 93.

Carol Heiderich, whose brother Capt. Jason Dahl was the plane's pilot, said the ship is a fitting tribute to the passengers and crew.

"It's such an honor to have our family members remembered in this way," said Heiderich, 59, of Hollister, Calif.

Dave Whelan, a cousin of Flight 93 passenger Richard Guadagno, said the ship embodied the spirit of the country.

"This is us, this is our country," said Whelan, 67, of Jackson, N.J. "This ship and the people on it will be prepared to do whatever they have to do."

"It's showing honor to our family members, to the heroes of Flight 93," said Whelan's wife, Carol. "It shows that we're not forgetting. It's been many years now and I'm hoping that 50 years from now when my grandson goes to Shanksville, they still remember."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.