Shanksville embraces 9/11 families

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. - On 9/11/01, the people of Somerset County found the world's troubles on their doorstep. But as CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley reports, they embraced the tragedy - especially the families of those lost on United Flight 93.

Life hasn't changed much for the 80,000 or so residents of Somerset County - not since September 11th, 2001. And some people think not for a hundred years.

Complete coverage: 9/11 anniversary

"We are primarily engaged in mining and farming," says Henry Cooke. "Kind of mind our own business and live our lives."

Cook's great-great grandfather started the bank that Cook now runs on Main Street.

"It happened in our backyard," Cook says. "And it was unbelievable."

Unbelievable that Lauren Grandcolas is gone. She was one of the 40 on Flight 93. Thirty-eight-years-old and expecting her first child.

Her father, Larry Catuzzi, is a banker in Houston. "She just had a way about her. She was just a terrific young lady. In Shanksville and Somerset, she would have been known on Main Street."

Very soon the families of the victims were known on Main Street. They came flooding into town after the attack. They were complete strangers, but Cook says the town threw their arms around them "every way we knew how."

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"We have a very attractive courthouse. On the steps of the courthouse we had a service that Friday - the families of those passengers were there," Cook says. "And my community formed this huge semicircle - courthouse yard was absolutely packed. And I remember standing there and just trying to project out a sense of caring to these people who had experienced such a terrible, terrible loss. It was a very, very powerful moment."

Cook serves as the trustee for private money raised for the families of Flight 93. He was on the jury that chose the memorial's design. And he served on that jury with Larry Catuzzi's wife Barbara. When Catuzzi travels to Shanksville this week, it will be his 32nd trip and another chance to see Henry Cook.

Catuzzi describes Cook as "the kinda guy you could love. And, I truly love him, and I love what he's done for us. And I love the leadership he's given us, in a very quiet way."

The memorial itself is a very quiet place. Only family members will be allowed to walk on the fields beyond the black stone wall because it's likely some human remains are buried there from the crash. It is sacred ground that surrounds a 17 ton boulder that was placed there to mark the spot where Flight 93 came to an end.

"If a tragedy like this had to occur, I don't know that there would be a - and this sounds peculiar - a better place for this to have happened," Catuzzi says. "The people of Somerset and Shanksville opened their arms and kept a comfortable resting place for our loved ones."

Saturday, the Flight 93 Memorial will be dedicated and opened to the public. Then on Sunday, President Obama is expected to be here to lay a wreath in commemoration of the tenth anniversary. Then, on Monday, September 12, the families of those lost on Flight 93 will be here for a private ceremony, to re-inter human remains that cannot be identified.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"