GREEN, OH - The brother of one of the victims in the hijacking of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 told students at Green High School on Friday that he recalls vividly the pain of his loss.
Fifteen years after the death of Edward Felt, 41, his brother Gordon remains instrumental in the effort to create a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew who died attempting to take control of the plane as the president of a not-for-profit charitable corporation called 'Families of Flight 93.'
Edward Felt was flying for business, seated in first class directly in front of two of the terrorists who attempted to take over the flight.
Gordon told students that he knew his brother was traveling that day, but as he watched the events unfold on television, he had not yet made the connection that Edward was on one of the doomed flights.
After learning of his brother's death, he said he was angry and hateful.
"I felt a poison in my soul that could easily have consumed me," said Felt.
Later, he decided to turn that feeling into something positive so that the memory of what happened that day would never become meaningless. He also wanted to honor the sacrifice made by the brave citizens on board that plane.
"I think about my brother every day," Felt said, realizing that most of the students in his audience either would not have any vivid recollection of that day, or may not have even been born.
Felt acknowledged that in the post 9/11 era, everyone in the audience has only known a world where they travel differently, where they have had to relinquish some freedoms, and where they have a tendency to view people from far parts of the world differently.
He said that throughout the darkest moments of our nation's history, "we are still here, bent but not broken," crediting much of the country's resilience to the bravery of citizens who rose to the occasion.
"To my brother, Edward Felt, a computer engineer, Richard Guadagno, manager of a federal wildlife refuge and trained law enforcement agent, Linda Gronlund an environmental compliance manager, Joey Nacke a distribution center manager, they and the other 36 passengers and crew members woke up the morning of September 11th and boarded the plane fully expecting to get off in San Francisco later that day," Felt told his audience.
"Instead they found themselves thrust in the heat of battle fighting for their lives fully aware of the events taking place in New York and at the Pentagon," he said.
Fifty students from Green High School will be in Shanksville for a weekend memorial on the 15th anniversary of the attacks, a trip supported by the local HALO foundation.
The school has maintained a close tie with the memorial there for the passengers and crew of Flight 93, who are considered to have been the first to rebel and begin the fight against the terrorists responsible for the attacks.
And even though most of the students in 2016 have no firsthand memory of what happened on 9/11, Felt believes it is very important that they study and honor the heroics and the lives that were lost.
"I find some solace in knowing that Ed, his life, the ending of his life, had purpose in that while we lost him I think as a country, as a community, we gained something that morning in the knowledge that we do have that strength that if we are called upon we hope we would have a similar level of commitment and courage to stand up to tyranny."