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Located in a rural part of western Pennsylvania is the Flight 93 National Memorial. This is the site where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after being hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. The crash occurred near the Pennsylvania town of Shanksville in Somerset County. It is approximately 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. There was a makeshift memorial for a decade at the crash site to honor the passengers and crew who passed away on the flight. A permanent memorial was constructed and open to visitors on September 10, 2011.
United Airlines Flight 93 was a regular passenger flight. It was hijacked by terrorists from AL-Qaeda. It was one of four planes that were hijacked on September 11, 2001. The hijackers aboard the flight were able to get into the cockpit and take control of the plane. The terrorists were able to overpower members of the flight crew. After takeoff and 45 minutes into the flight, a terrorist named Ziad Jarrah was piloting the airplane. The aircraft was turned back toward the U.S. east coast and toward Washington DC. Officials believe the hijackers wanted to crash the plane into the Capitol building or White House. With the terrorists in control of the plane, a number of passengers as well as flight attendants started making phone calls. They were able to learn that planes had already been crashed into the World Trade Center and Washington D.C.
Passengers Fight Back
After realizing the plane was going to be used for a terrorist attack against their country, the passengers of Flight 93 decided to take action. They discussed their situation and took a vote. The passengers decided they would fight back against the hijackers. One of the passengers was Thomas Burnett Jr. He told his wife he knew they were going to die. Burnett said they were going to do something about it. A flight attendant named Sandy Bradshaw told her husband they had made it into the plane's galley and were putting hot water into pitchers. Passenger Todd Beamer was heard telling other passengers “Are you guys ready? Let's roll.” At approximately 9:57 the crew and passengers began to battle with the terrorists. The terrorist who was flying the plane made the aircraft move up and down to deter the passengers and crew fighting to regain control. It appeared the passengers and crew would make it into the cockpit. The terrorist piloting the plane then made it turn hard right. The aircraft went onto its back and then turned down. It flew directly into the ground.
Shortly after the crash of Flight 93, people from around the world came to see the crash site. The area was fenced off from visitors with a hurricane fence. A small open shed had a guest register, and the only bathroom facilities were porta-potties. Many people put things on the hurricane fence. There were hats, homemade signs, photos, firefighter's hats and more. A metal guardrail was around the parking lot. It was covered with patriotic bumper stickers, signs, and messages written with Sharpie pens. Plans for a permanent memorial were worked on for years. In 2009, the National Park Service broke ground for a permanent Flight 93 memorial.
In March of 2002, Congressman John Murtha introduced a bill into the U.S. House of Representatives to establish a National Memorial at the crash site of Flight 93. The memorial site would be developed by a commission. The administration of the national memorial would be done by the National Park Service. In April of 2002, Senator Arlen Spector introduced the Flight 93 Memorial Act to the U.S. Senate. In September of that year, it was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress. The bill was designed so the four hijackers on the flight would be excluded from being recognized at the memorial. It was signed into law in September of 2002. The Flight 93 Memorial site was listed in the National Registrar of Historic Places.
Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign
This consisted of a partnership between the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission, Family members of the Flight 93 victims, Flight 93 Memorial task force, National Park Service as well as local, state and national organizations and others. The goal of this partnership was to build a permanent Flight 93 memorial. The Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign was stared in 2005. Financial support for the project was obtained from corporations, foundations as well as philanthropic individuals, organizations and more.
Crescent of Embrace
The design for the Flight 93 Memorial was done by Paul and Milena Murdoch of Los Angeles. The design included a Crescent of Embrace. Murdoch felt it would mark the edge of the land where the crash occurred. This area of land was intended to remain untouched. The son of Tom Burnett Sr. died in the Flight 93 crash. He was also a member of the Flight 93 Memorial design jury. Burnett gave a speech to the other jurors about what the crescent symbol represented. A number of U.S. politicians did not like the Crescent of Embrace design. Murdoch told everyone his intent was not to have a Muslim symbol. Because of the high level of criticism, the memorial design was modified. The redesigned memorial was made in the shape of a simple circle.
Flight 93 Entrance
Visitors are able to travel down a 3.5-mile road from the entrance of the memorial from US Route 30, which is part of the historic Lincoln Highway. As people drive to the crash site, they are able to see carefully landscaped fields. There are also beautiful views of the Laurel Highlands.
People can experience the Memorial Plaza. This has been designed to mark the edge of the crash site. This is the final resting place for the crew and passengers who were aboard Flight 93 when it crashed. Memorial Plaza has a number of features. There is a self-guided tour available. Orientation panels are available to explain the elements of the plaza and more.
Crash Site and Debris Field
A large long black wall shows the edge of the crash site and debris field. Benches are provided for people to rest and think about the memorial. People are able to leave tributes at designated places in the wall. Those who want to learn more about the architect's vision for the Flight 93 Memorial can hear about it on their cell phone at stops located along the walkway.
Visitors are able to see a hemlock grove that was impacted by the plane crash from Flight 93. A boulder is located in the general area of the impact site. After the plane crash, the FBI excavated the area. The depression in the land from the crash was ordered to be filled in by a coroner.
Wall Of Names And Ceremonial Gate
There are 40 names inscribed on white marble panels on the Wall of Names. It was designed to honor the crew and passengers who perished on flight 93. There is black granite made to mark a section of the plane's flight path. Visitors can also visit the Ceremonial Gate where they can look at the plane's flight path to the impact site.
Flight 93 National Memorial
6424 Lincoln Highway
Stoystown, PA 15563
P.O. Box 911
Shanksville, PA 15560
Location Of Flight 93 Memorial
Readmikenow (author) on May 17, 2018:
Thanks for stopping by. It's very different now. It has a nice building, walkways and more.
FlourishAnyway from USA on May 17, 2018:
For years before the tragedy, I used to pass right by Shanksville on I-76 driving on my way back home. It hurt so much to drive past it after 9/11.
It was such a remote, random place for a tragedy like this, and those passengers were true heroes. May they rest in peace, and may their families know that they saved our country from additional loss of life So very sad.