FIELD OF GLORY

Marble wall at the Flight 93 Memorial. Photo: The Patriot News

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States that took 3,000 innocent lives. While the impact of that horrific event has lessened over the years, the images and accounts are unforgettable.

Of the many stories to emerge from that day, none was so heart-rending as the plight of United Airlines Flight 93. Scheduled to depart from Newark at 8:00 a.m, the plane was delayed a crucial 41 minutes. This allowed the 40 highjacked crew and passengers to learn of the attacks underway, to band together, and make the decision to intervene. Due to their heroic efforts, the plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. instead of its presumed target, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Flight 93 Memorial Act into law, creating a new national park on the site to commemorate the crew and passengers on the flight. But an undertaking of this scale required a massive fundraising effort.

Over the years, as fundraising benchmarks were reached, makeshift memorials on the site made way for permanent monuments, including a $62 million marble wall of honor, consisting of 40 separate panels 10 feet in height, each inscribed with a single name. Since 9/11, some 2 million people have made pilgrimage to this sacred site.

This week, 11 years after the law, the National Parks Foundation announced that it had reached its $40 million fundraising goal to complete the memorial.  The final phase of construction will create a visitor center and a 93-foot “Tower of Voices” containing 40 wind chimes, each representing a person lost in the crash.  More than 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations contributed to the fund.

On this day, Barnhart honors the spirit of those 40 crew and passengers, and the goodwill of those who, through their philanthropy, banded together to make sure they were not forgotten.

About Meredith Portman

Meredith Portman is a freelance writer who specializes in heavy industry, healthcare and education.
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