Remembering September 11

September 11, 2015Liz GustafsonNPF Blog

Many of us can still recall exactly where we were when we heard the news. Four planes had been hijacked; two targeted our nation’s financial headquarters in New York City, while the other two were headed south to the heart of our nation’s government in Washington, D.C. On that day, we watched in horror and disbelief as we saw this country shaken to its core, leading us to question what would become of this beloved place we call home.

Candles lit at Flight 93 National Memorial

United Airlines Flight 93 was one of these four planes on course for Washington, D.C. It carried 40 passengers and crewmembers who, not long after boarding, were faced with a choice of how to live out their final moments. They made the remarkable decision to fight back, and in doing so, averted what would have been a greater disaster. Their heroic actions ultimately led the hijacked plane to crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target, the U.S. Capitol.

Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial placing hands on memorial wall
Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial touch wall of memorial

In September of the following year, Congress passed the Flight 93 National Memorial Act, which created a new national park to honor the brave passengers and crew of Flight 93. The National Park Foundation played an essential role in raising funds for the Flight 93 National Memorial, launching a $40 million capital campaign – a monumental effort to raise private funds by individuals, foundations, and corporations – to establish, design, and construct the memorial.

The Foundation is proud to have been an instrumental part in the creation of this national park that now sees more than 300,000 visitors per year. Those visitors will be marked by, will carry, and will share the story of the courageous, extraordinary citizens aboard that flight.

In addition to the capital campaign, the Foundation worked with community members to establish a local philanthropic partner, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, which continues to fundraise and provide ongoing support to the national park. It is comprised of family and friends of the heroes of Flight 93, and of individuals from around the nation who are passionate about ensuring this story is preserved for future generations.

Bouquet of flowers and American flag placed at the Flight 93 National Memorial

Fourteen years after that fateful day, we were grateful to be a part of the ceremony dedication of the newly completed visitor center that will interpret the events of that day.

Regardless of where you are across the nation, there are many ways to observe the day. You could:

  • Walk 93, the inaugural memorial walk on Sept. 26, register todayhurry, registration closes tomorrow and it is a great way to #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque.
  • Stop by the new visitor center, which was dedicated and opened only yesterday starting on Saturday, September 12, tickets are open to the public.
  • Volunteer for a day or engage throughout the year via the national park’s volunteer program.We owe it to the fallen heroes and their families, and to ourselves, to never forget the events of that day. We must remember and reflect upon the ultimate sacrifice that was made. 

Photo Credits: The Department of the Interior, the National Park Foundation, and the National Park Service.

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