Flight 93 Memorial Remembering The Victims Of A Flight That May Never Have Been
The United Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville PA is a fitting and respectful commemoration to the victims of a horrible day in US history. Located at the actual crash site in Pennsylvania, visitors can pay tribute and read the history of a day many will never forget.
Where is the Flight 93 Memorial location?
The actual crash site of Flight 93 and the memorial is located in a field in Somerset County, PA just off the Lincoln Highway. Road signs clearly mark the entrance from just outside Stoystown and Shanksville.
Access to the site is free of charge however it is worth noting that there are no refreshment facilities currently in place. The location is still under development and will see further commemorative features completed in 2015.
The short walk from the car park sees you pass various signs advising you on the history of the fateful day of 11th September 2001, more commonly referred to as “911”.
United Flight 93 Facts
United Airlines Flight 93 left Newark airport in New Jersey at 8:42am heading for San Francisco in California. This was just 4 minutes before the first of the 4 hijacked jets (Flight 11) struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
Flight 93 had actually been delayed by 25 minutes from its scheduled departure time. It is sad to think that had the flight been delayed further it may never have taken off as flights were soon being grounded.
The hijack of Flight 93 was estimated to have begun at 9:28am and the plane was re-routed towards Washington D.C. It is not clear exactly what the target was, maybe Capital Hill since the Senate was in session that day.
At 9:57am it is believed that the passengers and crew began to fight back to try to regain control of the plane. The struggle ended with the plane crashing upside-down into this field at a speed of 563 miles per hour. No one survived.
Flight 93 goes down in history as a story of immense bravery and a struggle for life from the passengers. After receiving information of the terror attacks in New York and on the Pentagon it was clear this plane hijack was part of the bigger plan.
The Flight 93 Shanksville Memorial commemorates the 40 innocent lives lost on that plane.
Passengers of United Flight 93
The faces of the passengers of United Flight 93 are displayed both on the memorial website and as part of a sign display at the Memorial venue.
As you walk alongside a black wall you head towards a white Wall of Names. These are the names of the victims of Flight 93.
The black wall separates you from the actual crash site which is visible to your left. A boulder in the field is a marker for the suspected point of impact.
The White Wall of Names at the Shanksville Memorial runs along the actual flight path of the plane. Then a low cut line of grass leads to the point of impact in this rural field.
As I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial it was clear that most people there were alive on this horrible day. Numerous families were present and some children were clearly too young to have memories of that moment when this airline flight crashed and changed the modern world.
The mood was always respectful and somber. Voices were controlled and no laughter was heard.
We passed ledges where people had placed personal tributes.
A model plane was placed on the floor beside the name of a member of the military who was a victim that day.
At the Wall of Names lay flowers.
The field which is the crash site of United Flight 93 is now flat and green. The coroner advised for the site to be backfilled and levelled. This is indeed the last resting place for the victims that day.
Entrance to the field itself is reserved for only family members of the victims.
September 11 Pennsylvania and my memories
Visiting this site was something which had intrigued me. I of course remember the day of 911. I was sat in my apartment at the compound in Saudi Arabia where I was living at the time. (A year and a half later this very same compound would also be attacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists.)
I recall watching on with horror as events unfolded. The constant desire for updates on the final plane in the sky, heading across Pennsylvania. Knowing fighter jets had been scrambled but wanting a miraculous saving outcome.
The passengers fought back that day. They tried to change the course of history. Their story is remarkable and has been noted in a Hollywood film.
United Flight 93 Controversy
Over the years there has been some controversy over both the flight and the Flight 93 Memorial PA.
The story of the demise of the plane has been contested with some claiming the flight was actually shot down by the US Air Force, although attempts by passengers to overcome the hijackers is not contested.
This controversy stems from people who claim to be eye witnesses. In addition, the flight crash photos and video footage directly after the incident suggest only small fragments of aircraft were found. This implies that it was not like a normal airline crash site.
Further controversy came from the United Flight 93 Memorial design. It is said that with the original design people identified a crescent shape which could be seen as a Muslim symbol. The design was altered to address these concerns.
For now the Flight 93 National Memorial is an ongoing project due to complete in 2015. The site has been designated as part of the National Park Service. As a result this will be a long lasting symbol for the people who fought back.
May their souls rest in peace.