Brad Shober, the deputy fire chief for the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, was called to the scene on 9/11 and has returned each year for the ceremonies. "I'm impressed with the turnout," he said. "I hope most of them are here for the passengers and not John McCain." -- SHANKSVILLE: McCain joins mourners at Flight 93 'homecoming'/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Noreen Grimm of Avonmore in Westmoreland County, Pa., made the trip knowing she would see McCain in person for the first time. She sported patriotic tennis shoes, a McCain/Sarah Palin button and carried a homemade sign "Hockey Moms for McCain and Palin...." -- Sen. McCain Visits Shanksville Crash Site/ Wheeling News Register
I don't see how John McCain can call his stealth appearance at the Shanksville memorial ceremony early yesterday anything but a campaign appearance. He was there with full press in attendance, he gave a speech, mingled with the families and he pressed the flesh with the crowd.
According to the Post-Gazette story, Mccain "arrived early and stayed late, accompanied by his wife, Cindy, to shake hands and pose for pictures with the victims' families." (Consequently, here you see Barack Obama and Mayor Bloomberg killing time at Ground Zero waiting for McCain to arrive for the officially agreed upon non-politicized joint commemoration.) In addition, Governor Rendell, in his address to the crowd, took the opportunity to commend "Mr. McCain's own heroism while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam."
Still, the media, although disseminating touching visual documentation like the image above, will not go there because -- beyond the fact the campaigns agreed, in advance, not to politicize 9/11 -- McCain, who stands here before at least sixteen American flags and the artifacts of the dead -- is universally recognized as an American hero and an honorable man.
(image 1: Jason Cohn/Reuters. September 11, 2008. Flight 93 Temporary Memorial outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. linked image:Shannon Stapleton/AFP/Getty. New York)