SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain asked every person Thursday to “to be as good an American” as the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. Democrat Barack Obama asked Americans to “renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose” that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

With 54 days left in the heated presidential campaign, Thursday was unusual — a mutual political cease-fire in honor of the day terrorists forced four airplanes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, a field in Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon in Washington, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Obama and McCain, were to appear together twice at anniversary-related events, although briefly each time and mostly without public words. They also agreed to suspend all TV ads critical of each other.

The 2001 attacks transformed the nation in many ways, and one is that every anniversary since has found those holding or seeking office struggling for ways to appropriately pay homage. But it remained to be seen whether the McCain and Obama camps would refrain from sharp-edged campaigning, something hard to halt in an age of the Internet and 24-hour television news.

Their first acts marking the anniversary were separate.

McCain attended a simple ceremony in remote, rural western Pennsylvania, held in a large hilly field near the impact point of United Airlines Flight 93. Investigators believe some of the 40 passengers and crew rushed the cockpit to thwart terrorists’ plans to use that plane as a weapon like the others that. All aboard were killed when the plane went down.

Still-grieving family members and a few dignitaries sat in front of the chain-link fence adorned with flags and mementos that serves as a temporary memorial while a permanent one is constructed. Bells were rung as the name of each victim was read. McCain and others laid wreaths at the foot of two flagpoles and a large wooden cross.

McCain said those in the flight might have saved his own life, as some believe the terrorists wanted to slam that plane into the U.S. Capitol. He said the only way to thank those who died on the flight is to “be as good an American as they were.”

“We might fall well short of their standard, but there’s honor in the effort,” McCain said in brief remarks.

The day’s truce was evident in remarks thanking McCain for traveling to Shanksville by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat who occasionally speaks against the Republican nominee as an Obama campaign surrogate. “It’s an honor to have him here, not just as a presidential candidate but as a great American patriot,” Rendell said.

Obama issued a morning statement, recalling that on Sept. 11, 2001, “Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country,” he said. “Let us renew that.”

He included what seemed a subtle dig — though at President Bush, not McCain — with a reference to the work Bush is leaving unfinished. “Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice,” Obama said. His campaign said no criticism was intended by the remark.

In the afternoon, in New York, Obama and McCain were to come together to visit ground zero for a somber, silent wreath-laying in the pit that marks the largest loss of life in the attacks.

That appearance was to be followed by another in the evening at a Columbia University forum. McCain and Obama were discussing their views on public service with journalist moderators, sharing only a handshake in between their separate sessions.

Obama’s only other planned outing Thursday was lunch in New York with former President Clinton.

Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, was going to an American Legion post in suburban Cleveland with an invitation-only gathering of area police, firefighters and other first responders. The Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was in her home state of Alaska, attending an Army ceremony to send her eldest son, Track, off to duty in Iraq and taking interviews with ABC News.

Obama and McCain last appeared together in August when they shook hands at minister Rick Warren’s megachurch in Orange County, Calif., where they spoke separately about faith and values. In June they attended the funeral of NBC newsman Tim Russert, sitting next to each other at the family’s request.

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