Sept. 11, 2006 | 7:24 p.m. ET

Below is an excerpt of Jane Pauley's introduction and closing remarks during the rebroadcast of 'No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93,' which airs Dateline Monday, Sept. 11, 2006, 8 p.m. on NBC.

Why we cling to the story of United Flight 93 (Jane Pauley, former Dateline anchor)

September 11th, 2001 was a day we may never forget. Three passenger planes were turned into guided missiles, thousands were killed, and our world changed forever.  And there was that fourth plane that never made its target: United Flight 93.

There have been two TV movies in the past year, and Universal’s feature film "United 93."

Why do we cling to the story of Flight 93? Why are we so inspired by the passengers' and crews' examples of courage and self-sacrifice, even in the face of almost certain death?

Because on Sept. 11, those people — people not so different from ourselves —  took the fight to the terrorists.

Who could forget those first terrible days after September 11th when every one of us was shaking from shock and fright? How it felt to hear the story of Flight 93 from those brave families who told it first — the story only they could tell.

The men and women of Flight 93 won’t merely be remembered, but remembered as heroes—  40 strangers forever united in a nation’s gratitude for what they did. Given the choice, they chose to act.

We will never know exactly which passengers and crew waged that counterattack, which ones reached the cockpit, and whether any of them could have stopped the plane from going down.

It doesn’t matter.

We do know that because of their collective courage, hundreds, maybe even thousands of lives were saved.  They were, all of them, real heroes...

Shanksville Commemorates 5-Year Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks
Jeff Swensen  /  Getty Images
A flag is unfolded at a memorial site on the 5th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, where United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 11, 2006.

Dateline would like to thank the families who graciously gave us their time for this report .  Many of them were gathered again today in Shanksville, Pa. for a special ceremony commemorating the heroes of Flight 93. To learn more about plans for the permanent memorial to the heroes of Flight 93, click here.

Sept. 9, 2006 | 8:59 p.m. ET

On remembering the 9/11 Controllers (Tom Brokaw)

Video: Brokaw on 9/11 coverage, effects The 9/11 attack was the kind of epic event that quickly becomes part of history. In movies, books and in classrooms, the stories have been told again and again— about everyone from the firefighters who sacrificed their lives, to the airline passengers who fought back against the terrorist hijackers.

But there is one group of people knew little about. They saw the nightmare coming: the air traffic controllers in charge of the skies over America that morning. What they witnessed, even now, is hard to fathom. What they did was extraordinary.

There was a time when we had the luxury of taking our air traffic controllers for granted. No more. Today, 5 years after 9/11 we have an insider’s appreciation of their critical role in getting us off the ground and headed safely to our destinations, or, in times of national emergency, out of the air and back safely on the ground.

September 11th was at once the blackest day in their profession and the proudest.

Click here to read the re-broadcast of Tom Brokaw's report, as it aired on NBC Saturday .

Sept. 9, 2006 | 10:00 a.m. ET

September 11, 2001 (Sharon Hoffman, Dateline producer)

Someday my children will ask me where I was.  And here's the answer:

On September 11th, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, I was up in the air.  My colleague Edie Magnus and I were flying to Indianapolis for a story.  After we landed, someone at the Hertz desk told us what was going on in New York, and we honestly thought she was joking.  Of course, by the time we got to our interview location - a courthouse - every person there, like everyone else in America, was watching television.  

We are journalists.  There was only one thing to do.  We cancelled the interview; the camera crews, Edie, and I got back in our cars; and we started driving east.  It was near impossible to raise anyone in New York on the phone, and so we headed to the closest story: Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the site of the crash of Flight 93.

We saw the drained faces of the pool camera operators and recovery workers who'd been up close to the jet-shaped hole in the ground.  We watched confused, weeping family members being shuttled in and out of tents with counselors inside.  Crews, sound techs in particular, can be among the most sarcastic and cynical people on earth.  No one was cracking jokes in Shanksville.

It was deeply upsetting to be there. I am glad I was.

Edie did a live shot for MSNBC from the scene early in the morning. Then two hours of rest in a Holiday Inn Express, and we were off to New York... where Jane Pauley and a huge team of producers and editors and I began to put together a comprehensive report about what exactly happened on board Flight 93.  We made hundreds of calls to family members, law enforcement and government officials, air traffic controllers and experts who could interpret what we heard.  I didn't see my 18-month-old son for two and a half weeks; my mother had taken him from my home to New Jersey on 9/11, panicked as I was about whether terrorists would strike again... and she kept him while we all worked around the clock. I remember a gravel-voiced Jane recording narration changes at three o'clock one morning, and not seeming tired at all.  We just didn't want to settle for anything less than the best, most accurate story we could possibly do.

It was entirely overwhelming to the family members of the heroes of Flight 93 to be embraced by the nation.  None of them wanted the press.  In the midst of awful mourning, they instantly had to learn how to talk to people like us — endure standing up to us to protect their most important memories. My colleague Sarah Longden has been talking to the Flight 93 families for five years, negotiating access to pictures and details, all the while listening to memories that weren't part of the story but were no less important to hear.  She promised them our care and respect.  She talked to nearly every single family, and ours is the only documentary about this flight that names and shows a picture of every passenger and crew member aboard.  That was critical to us.

Since 9/11, we have obtained every piece of audio from the flight, from cockpit transmissions to phone call tapes, made public over the years.  We also have phone messages you'll hear for the first time anywhere; they were provided by family members who trust us to tell this story well.

This is a legend American children will be told for the rest of time. It was — still is — the most important story I've ever done.  We hope "No Greater Love: The Story of Flight 93" confirms or restores your faith that Americans by their nature and history are brave and true in the clutch... that five years on, the men and women of Flight 93 represent everything we hope to be.  That will be true for the rest of our days.

Marking the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, former co-anchor, Jane Pauley, returns to "Dateline," to update her 2001 report, "Flight 93." New interviews with family members who lost loved ones in the flight, and new audiotapes will be added to the report that details the heroic events on board the hijacked plane that was crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. Sept. 11, 2006, 8 p.m.

Sept. 8, 2006 | 9:59 a.m. ET

Sept. 8, 2006 | 10:21 p.m. ET

Two months ago, Oliver Stone's movie 'World Trade Center' was released. In case you missed Ann Curry's 'Dateline' interview with the director, click here .

On this page , you'll also find Web-exclusive interviews with three of the real-life people portrayed in the film: Will Jimeno, John McLoughlin and Scott Strauss were among America's bravest who lived through that day.


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