By: Lynne Brewer
September 11, 2001 changed the way people think about American spirit and love for the country. The terroristic events of that day left an everlasting impact on the lives of many American citizens. Osama Bin Laden and his team hijacked planes and flew them into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers of Flight 93 fought back, causing the plane to crash in a former stripmine in Shanksville thereby saving many lives. To honor the lives of those on Flight 93, memorials were made. The temporary and permanent memorial of Flight 93 offered different learning experiences, as well as ways to honor the passengers.
Gordon Felt, brother of passenger Edward Felt said, “While the temporary memorial offered a site to pay the respects and reflect on the events of Sept. 11th, it could not provide a sanctuary from the overwhelming feeling of loss. The temporary memorial was spontaneous and chaotic at times. It was the product of the best of intentions and staffed by the finest and most dedicated volunteers to answer the call to service, (Wagner, 12).” The temporary memorial of Flight 93 was quickly put together to give the families a sense of condolence and comfort. The people who ran the temporary memorial were local citizens who felt a need to honor the passengers. The memorial had a small fence where visitors could leave a keepsake, such as coins or little toys. There were also larger items left such as firefighter helmets and wreaths. Engraved stone markers were donated by many different groups. All items that visitors left were and still are kept in safe keeping. There were also benches that had the name of the passengers and crew members engraved on them. Little angels were lined up along the field to represent the lives lost. Although the memorial was small in size, the meaning it had was so much larger. For many people, the crash site is the grave for their loved ones, and the memorial represented the tombstone.
The process for the permanent memorial began in 2002 when Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles, California along with Nelson Byrd Woltz of Charlottesville, Virginia designed the permanent memorial, (www.nps.gov). The National Park Service took charge of the memorial, making it a government-ran memorial or park. The permanent memorial is much larger than the temporary one and offers more ways to honor the passengers and crew. There is the ‘Sacred Ground’ area, which is mainly where the crash site was and where the unidentified remains of passengers and crew were buried. Beside the ‘Sacred Ground’ there is the ‘Field of Honor’, which links the whole memorial together. Wetlands are located throughout the memorial, allowing wildlife to make a safe habitat for themselves. There is also the Forty Memorial Groves, which is forty rows of forty trees. Each row of trees represents one passenger or crew member of Flight 93. The entry portal is set along the path of the Flight 93. The walkway of the entry portal has timestamps from September 11, 2001, taking people back to the tragic day. The Western Overlook gives a beautiful view of the whole memorial. Visitors can see the Field of Honor, Sacred Ground, and the wall, which is a large piece of marble that has the names of each passenger and crew member engraved on it. The ‘Tower of Voices,’ which has not been completed, will be the next piece of the memorial. It will be a 93-foot tall tower with forty chimes in it (www.honorflight93.org). It will stand at the entry and exit of the memorial so everyone can see it.
The permanent memorial does not just offer things to look at, it also offers a way to learn about Flight 93 and the sacrifices the passengers made. There is a visitor’s center and a learning center for people to walk through. When visitors walk through the entry portal, they are taken to the learning center. In the learning center, people can see pieces that were recovered from the plane or hear the phone calls that the passengers left for loved ones. Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas left a message for her husband saying, “I just wanted to tell you I love you. We are having a little problem on the plane. I’m totally fine. I just love you more than anything, just know that, (Sullican).” There is also a life-size photograph of a Boeing 747 cabin showing what the passengers and crew had to do to fight back. ‘Interps’, which are interpreters, are always at the park ready to share the story about the day. They learned everything about that day to share the knowledge with the visitors. At the memorial plaza along the walkway there are signs that have information about them. Pictures that local people took are hung around the visitor center and on the signs at the memorial plaza. Memorabilia and books about Flight 93 are sold in the little store that is in the visitor center. Many people visit the memorial every day, and they learn about the terrible event.
Without a doubt, the National Flight 93 Memorial does a beautiful job of representing the lives lost on that tragic day. Many hours of hard work and dedication have been put into keeping the Memorial run smoothly. The passengers and crew will never be forgotten and will always be remembered as heros because of the memorial. The families get that final resting place for their loved ones as well. It does a remarkable job of offering different learning experiences and honoring the passengers.
National Park Service. "Flight 93." National Park Service. U.S. Department of Interior, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Sullivan, Kevin. "A New 9/11 Memorial to Flight 93: 'Our loved ones left a legacy for all of us'" The Washington Post 10 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Print.
Tagliabue, Victoria. "The Memorial." Flight 93 National Memorial. The National Park Foundation, 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Wagner, Chuck. Reflections from the Memorial Somerset Daily American, 2015 Page 12