Flight 93 National Memorial

While my parents were visiting, we went to Flight 93 National Memorial.  We went the week after the 9/11 anniversary.  Even though it was after the anniversary, the park was extremely busy with the kind of number we usually see only in the big western parks.  The day we went I counted six school buses, two tour buses, and 50 cars in the parking lot.  Obviously a lot of people are still remembering the events of September 11, 2001.

Flight 93 National Memorial is built in remembrance of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93.  Because Flight 93 was delayed at takeoff, the passengers and crew knew the hijackers’ purpose.  Instead of allowing the hijackers to fly the airplane into the Capital Building where Congress was in session, they fought back.  The passengers and crew timed their counterattack until the airplane passed Pittsburgh and was in a rural area before Washington DC.  Because of their sacrifice, the airplane crashed in an abandoned strip mine instead of in a highly populated area.

The museum of Flight 93 Memorial has four large walls, each side telling a different part of the story.  On air coverage of the attacks is shown on one wall, with a timeline of each of the airplanes hijacked.  On another wall is the timeline for Flight 93.  Another wall, probably the most emotional, has headphones where you can listen to calls from the passengers and crew.  These are airphone calls made to loved ones and recorded on answering machines.  One wall contains details about the aftermath of the crash.  The final section has letters and mementos left by people at the Memorial and a list of all the people killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Visitors Center walk
Visitors Center
Restrooms and Education Building
Memorial wall
Memorial Wall and Visitors Center
View of crash site

The stark concrete building that houses the Visitors Center and Museum looks like the wings of an airplane from a distance.  Another part of the Flight 93 Memorial site is the Memorial Plaza where each passenger and crew member gets a marble slab with their name on it.  The Plaza is at the crash site with a boulder marking the point of impact.  The marble slabs look like one wall when you are walking up to it, but when you are up close you can see they are all separated.  This is to symbolize the unity of purpose of the passengers and crew when they fought back against the hijackers.  You can walk to the Memorial Plaza from the Visitors Center or drive.

Tower of Voices

Another symbolic monument at Flight 93 Memorial is the Tower of Voices.  The Tower is 93 feet tall and is supposed to have 40 wind chimes that will represent the voices of the 40 people who died.  Although the tower is completed, the wind chimes are not working as intended.  Only eight are installed and they are tethered.  I guess you could say they represent those whose voices were silenced when the airplane crashed.

Visiting Flight 93 National Memorial is a very moving experience.  People were crying as they read the displays.  Boxes of tissues are scattered all over the Visitors Center.