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Upon This Sacred Ground: Courage Remembered

Flight 93 National Memorial

National Park News

General Colin L. Powell, who was serving as Secretary of State on September 11, 2001, will deliver the keynote remarks at this year’s service commemorating the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The service is entitled “Upon this Sacred Ground, Courage Remembered.”

Joining General Powell will be Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the honorary co-chairs of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and General Tommy R. Franks. A tribute will be offered by Gordon W. Felt, president of Families of Flight 93, whose brother Edward was a passenger on the flight. Country music artist Trace Adkins will sing the National Anthem. As part of the ceremony, the Bells of Remembrance will be tolled as the names of each of the 40 passengers and crew are read aloud. Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach will give closing remarks.

On September 24, 2002, the Flight 93 National Memorial Act created a new national memorial dedicated to the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93. Flight 93 was the fourth plane that crashed on September 11th. It was forced down by the passengers and crew less than 20 minutes by air from its intended target of the U.S. Capitol or the White House.

The national memorial includes 2,231 acres and is located in Somerset County, approximately 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. It protects not only the crash site – the final resting place of the passengers and crew – but the surrounding rural setting. More than one million people from 120 countries and all 50 states have visited a temporary memorial at the site.

The design, by Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles, was chosen in 2005 after an international competition that included more than 1,000 entries. The competition marks the first time an entire national park was designed through a competition. When completed, the memorial will feature a curving arc of 40 memorial groves of trees along a walkway that encircles the fields surrounding the crash site. At the western end of the walkway will be a visitor center and the entry portal, where high walls will frame the sky and the plane’s flight path to the crash site. Eventually, a 93-foot high “Tower of Voices” will mark the entrance to the site. Its 40 wind chimes will pay tribute to the conversations the passengers and crew had with people on the ground, which gave them the information necessary to act. The centerpiece of the initial phase of construction will be the Sacred Ground Plaza, which will allow visitors to the edge of the crash site.

The cost of first phase of the National Memorial is $58 million, of which $30 million will be paid for through private contributions. The National Park Foundation, the congressionally-chartered nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, is leading the campaign to raise the necessary private funds. Since 2005, more than 50,000 donors – both large and small from across the nation and around the world – have raised over $15.5 million. 

The National Park Service recently completed all agreements to acquire the remaining core lands and a groundbreaking ceremony is planned for November 7, 2009. The initial phase of the National Memorial is on track to be dedicated on September 11, 2011. 

For more information about the commemorative service or the Flight 93 National Memorial, please visit

To learn what you can do to ensure the permanent tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 is realized, please visit


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