Remembering that Fateful Day, 15 Years Later
This year, we marked the 15-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. While memorial events and services took place in New York, Washington, D.C., and around the country, Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, honored the memory and bravery of the passengers and crew on United Airlines Flight 93.
Flight 93 National Memorial was designated in 2002 as the 386th addition to the National Park System and is the only national park unit to commemorate a 21st century historical event. The national memorial sits close to the site where nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Thanks to the selfless actions of 40 brave passengers and crew onboard the flight, an attack on the U.S. Capitol was thwarted and the plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Because of the courage and sacrifice of the people aboard the flight, this common field was transformed into a national memorial site and a place of honor forever.
Maintaining and stewarding this sacred place is no easy feat, as thousands of visitors pay their respects to the Flight 93 National Memorial each year. Initially, the site had only a handful of National Park Service staff to maintain its grounds, guide visitors through the site, and preserve its history. Local community members could see that the park needed help to manage the influx of visitors who wished to visit the memorial, and so community members began volunteering at the site.
In December of 2009, the Friends of Flight 93 was officially established as the official nonprofit partner to Flight 93 National Memorial. The establishment of the nonprofit began as a community-led effort of volunteers who helped National Park Service staff to steward the memorial.
Friends of Flight 93 focuses on awareness, education, volunteer support, preservation and stewardship. Its mission is to support the park with volunteers, resources, educational outreach, and communications programs, and care for the memorial’s facilities and surroundings. Through its efforts, Flight 93 National Memorial will remain accessible, relevant, and inspirational to present and future generations.
One of the annual events held to support the park is Walk 93, a non-competitive walk to raise funds for development around the memorial. Walk 93 has been hugely successful, with over $30,000 raised in the last two years.
The Friends of Flight 93 hosts an annual September 11 remembrance memorial service in honor of the 40 passengers and crew who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The event includes a luminaria ceremony with 40 lanterns carried to the Wall of Names, music, an open-air memorial service, the reading of the names of the 40 individuals, and the ringing of the Bells of Remembrance to commemorate their lives and heroism.