I had recently read about Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama visiting the new Flight 93 National Memorial during the park’s dedication on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and had watched a couple of movies during the 9/11 anniversary weekend about the passengers of Flight 93 who fought back against their highjackers and averted them from their likely target of the US Capitol. Since I was planning to travel across southern Pennsylvania on the Lincoln Highway, I decided to make a stop at this newest national park site.
Flight 93 crashed in a farm field in the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania near Shanksville. The land of this small valley is now entirely owned by the Memorial Park with the exception of one hilltop where the previous owner’s barn and home are located. The park is still so new, that the front entrance sign was still being painted when I arrived.
Only the first phase of the park’s construction is complete, but it achieves it’s goals quite well already. it’s a solemn, reflective, and yet very powerfully moving place. There is currently an entrance plaza area with a building that features a small enclosed room with two large covered areas on either side.
Beyond the building is a long solemn black granite walkway that flanks the actual crashsite on one side, and the large open rolling hills on the other. At the end of the walkway is a long row of tall marble slabs with the name of each passenger inscribed on each slab, appropriately called the “Wall of Names”. A large wood gate allows family members of the passengers to walk out to the crash site itself. No other visitors are allowed on that ground. Various personal memorials that family members had left from the recent park dedication ceremony on 9/11 were still present reminding us that these names on stones were husbands, daughters, mothers, and brothers to the many people who still love and miss them.
On the entrance plaza are a series of signs that explain the events of this fateful flight and it’s passengers.
There is still much more to be constructed at this park. Fifty percent of the funding is relying on private donations. To learn more, visit: http://www.honorflight93.org/