United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked by four Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001, with its intended target presumed to be the nation’s capitol in Washington, DC. But, after hearing of three earlier hijacked planes that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, passengers and crew of Flight 93 stormed the cockpit, overtook the hijackers and forced the plane to crash in an empty field in southwest Pennsylvania. All 40 of the passengers and crew perished, along with the four Islamic terrorists.
The name of each of the forty heroes is engraved on their own eight foot tall panel of polished white marble. Each panel stands shoulder to shoulder with the next panel, forming a line tracing the final path of United Flight 93. The actual crash site is approximately 500 yards to the left of this photo. The impact site is considered sacred ground and is off limits to everyone except victims’ family.
The Visitor Center was not completed when I visited the site in 2011, but will be located just to the right of this photo. (As of this date, the Visitor and Learning Center is short $5 million needed for completion.) The”viewing area” shown here looks towards the white panels about 300 yards to the left of this photo. The area felt more like a worship center than a viewing area, very quiet, peaceful, respectful, inspirational and reflective.
Flight 93 National Memorial is located near Shanksville, PA, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh — in the middle of nowhere. From the nearest exit off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it’s about an hour drive over narrow, windy, Allegheny Mountain roads. A pretty drive, but probably not one you would take unless you really wanted to see the Flight 93 National Memorial. I wanted to see it, and glad I did.
Let us remember these heroes on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
Thought for the Day: Are you guys ready? Let’s roll. Todd Beamer, passenger on Flight 93; last audible words before the crash.