Monday, Sep 12, 2011
The permanent Flight 93 Memorial was dedicated and opened to the public for the first time on Saturday, with the passengers and crew of the doomed airliner remembered during Sunday’s tenth commemorative service.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton were among the dignitaries who joined more than 15,000 guests during the weekend to recognize the valor of the forty passengers and crew of United Flight 93 who lost their lives after thwarting a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, diverting the plane from its intended destination, the U.S. Capitol, and saving untold numbers of lives.
Director Jon Jarvis served as master of ceremonies for Saturday’s dedication, which included remarks by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, whose brother, Edward, was a passenger on the flight; and former Presidents Bush and Clinton. Vice President Biden delivered the keynote address. Former NPS Deputy Director John Reynolds presented the memorial to the American people in his role as chairman of the Flight 93 Advisory Commission. Grammy award winning singer Sarah McLachlan performed two songs.
Sunday’s commemorative service marked the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Remarks were delivered by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, as well as the state’s Congressional delegation. Two bells were rung each time a crew or passenger name was read by a family member.
Participants in the service also included the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, first responders to the plane crash, and Wally Miller, the Somerset County coroner, who led the investigation of the crash site. Shortly after the conclusion of the program, President and Mrs. Obama visited the memorial to lay a wreath and meet with family members of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
The final resting place of the passengers and crew is the heart of the new memorial and will remain untouched. The Memorial Plaza allows visitors to view the crash site, and the names of the 40 passengers and crew are inscribed on the walls, which follow the flight path of the plane. Two more phases of development at the memorial remain to be completed in coming years and include a visitor center, entry portal, extensive landscaping (including 40 memorial groves of trees), and the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot-high tower housing 40 wind chimes to serve as an enduring echo of the voices of the passengers and crew.
Media interest in this event was extreme. More than 650 credentials were issued to 140 outlets, representing all major national radio, television and print outlets, local affiliates from Greensboro, North Carolina, to San Francisco, and international news agencies from Germany, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, and China among others.
Incident command assistance was provided staff from Northeast and Southeast Region parks, Northeast Regional Office and WASO. The incident was staffed by more than 100 National Park Service employees from Northeast, National Capital and Southeast Regions.
In his remarks on Saturday, Gordon Felt recognized what the dedication meant to the families of Flight 93, and the important role to be played by the National Park Service in the coming years.
"Ten years ago, when we first came to this hallowed ground, we were devastated and nearly broken,” he said. “Today, with the dedication of the memorial we are assured that the enduring legacy of our loved ones . . . will be preserved, providing comfort, education and inspiration for future generations."