Flight 93: A Lasting Legacy

Chaska HansenNPF Blog
Tower of Voices, Flight 93 National Memorial - NPS Photo / Brenda T Schwartz

The events of September 11, 2001 left a profound and lasting impression on people around the nation, many of whom are still able to vividly recall the precise moment they first learned about the devastating terrorist attacks. 

On the day that changed the world forever, four commercial airliners were hijacked in a planned attack against the United States – two airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City, and one into the Pentagon in Virginia. The fourth airliner, Flight 93, was aimed towards Washington, D.C. with 33 passengers and 7 crew members on board, but it never reached its intended target. News of the World Trade Center attacks reached those aboard Flight 93 and in the face of horrific terrorism, bravery and heroism prevailed. The passengers and crew of Flight 93 overpowered the hijackers and at 10:03 am, Flight 93 crashed in a rural field near the town of Shanksville, PA in an act of unfathomable selflessness. 

Looking up through the tower, connector pieces on the second level are ready to be sealed in

Inside the Tower of Voices, at Flight 93 National Memorial, in 2018

NPS Photo

The final resting place of these 40 courageous men and women has been memorialized at Flight 93 National Memorial, where their collective story of bravery and sacrifice will always be remembered. The National Park Foundation has been a steadfast supporter of the Flight 93 National Memorial, implementing a campaign that raised a $40 million to establish, design, and construct the memorial. Since 2013, NPF has continued to raise private support for the monument while championing the park’s official charitable partner, Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial. Our partnership with the Friends of Flight 93 remains strong today as we continue to collaborate on an array of annual events and projects.  

Visiting Today – A Walk Through Flight 93 National Memorial 

Tall gray concrete walls with gap and black walkway

Flight Path Walkway at Flight 93 National Memorial

NPS Photo / Brenda Schwartz

Flight 93 National Memorial serves as our nation’s tribute to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, providing visitors the opportunity to explore the story of Flight 93 through exhibits and unique outdoor architectural features. 

Upon driving into the memorial, visitors can spot the site’s latest dedicated feature, the Tower of Voices. Standing at 93-feet tall, the Tower of Voices is a one-of-a-kind monumental structure that features forty distinct-sounding wind chimes. Once completed in fall 2020, the tower’s chime system will produce a set of forty musically compatible tones. As the calm and tranquil sounds travel across the expanse of the field, visitors throughout the memorial will be reminded of the forty individuals on Flight 93 whose lives are commemorated at the site.

Black walkway with black side walls and a glass panel at the end with the quote "A common field one day, a field of honor forever."

Flight Path Walkway Overlook at Flight 93 National Memorial

NPS Photo

Traveling deeper into the park site, visitors will continue to find symbolic design features, such as the Memorial Groves that consist of 40 trees and 40 groves. The groves were planted using seven species of Pennsylvania hardwoods bordering the Field of Honor – the field Flight 93 flew over during its last second of flight. Encircling the Field of Honor is a black granite walkway that connects visitors from the Visitor Center, through the Memorial Groves, and ending at Memorial Plaza. Memorial Plaza contains the Flight 93’s impact site, where visitors can walk along the boundary of the crash. Leading to the final resting place of the passengers and crew, 40 polished marble panels were installed along the flight path – each panel spaced separately yet united to honor the unified action of each individual. This memorial is known as the Wall of Names. 

How to Stay Involved

September 11th Observance 

Luminaria, including 40 candle lanterns placed in tribute at the forty panels of the Wall of Names

Luminaria held at the Wall of Names at Flight 93 National Memorial in 2014

NPS Photo

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 is a memory shared by all Americans. Each year on the anniversary, members of the public are welcomed at Flight 93 National Memorial to join the September 11 Observance, which honors all people who lost their lives on this tragic day, and the individuals on Flight 93 who courageously gave their lives to thwart a major terrorist attack on our nation. In 2019, NPF provided financial support for the September 11 Observance which was attended by thousands of visitors. The ceremony was held at the Wall of Names for the first time in five years – the closest that any member of the public has been able to get to the memorial feature. 

Plant a Tree at Flight 93 

Young woman planning a tree seedling

Volunteer planting a tree seedling at Flight 93 National Memorial

NPS Photo

Prior to the construction of the Flight 93 National Memorial, the landscape was a former surface coal mine, which had caused enduring damage to the land. In order to restore the land to its natural state, Friends of Flight 93 work in conjunction with the NPS to coordinate land ripping services that help increase soil drainage, reduce erosion, and cultivate growth of flora and fauna.  

Efforts to restore the landscape to its natural state continue today through the annual Plant a Tree at Flight 93 event. With NPF support, the 8th consecutive Plant a Tree event was held in April of 2019. Friends of Flight 93 hosted close to 500 volunteers who planted a total of 13,600 seedlings on 20 acres of land. Tree planting is part of a larger reforestation initiative that seeks to reclaim wildlife habitats, create a windbreak for the memorial groves, and ultimately cultivate a living memorial landscape in honor of Flight 93. The success of Plant a Tree at Flight 93 has also spurred a volunteer initiative with Penn State arborists and starting in 2020, the arborists will tend to the planted seedlings to provide proper maintenance and ensure the trees' survival.

As we near the 20th anniversary of September 11th, it is imperative that we continue to preserve the history and stories of these tragic events. Donate today to help to ensure that this day, as well as the rest of our nation’s history, is remembered through the memorials, monuments, battlefields, and cemeteries of the National Park Service. Find out more about Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial and how you can become a member or volunteer. 


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