A Story of Valor That Will Ring Through Time

Rocío LowerNPF Blog
– National Park Service

A quiet field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania was forever changed on the morning of September 11, 2001. Amidst a calamitous series of events that took place that day in the U.S., ordinary citizens rose up to reclaim one highjacked plane that was likely bound for the United States Capitol Building. The 40 passengers and crew members were killed when the plane crashed into the field that fateful morning and the memory of their bravery and sacrifice lives on at what is now known as Flight 93 National Memorial.

In the years following the tragic events that shook the U.S., the nation has taken steps to honor those who were lost and ensure their stories are never forgotten.

Remembering Through the Years

2002

Congress passes the Flight 93 National Memorial Act to create a new national park unit commemorating the men and women who courageously thwarted the attack on the capital. It also charters the Flight 93 National Memorial Federal Advisory Commission to oversee the park’s planning, design, and construction.

The Families of Flight 93 is established and partners with the National Park Service and the advisory commission to collaborate on the creation of the new park.

2005
The memorial landscape design is approved for Flight 93 National Memorial.

2007
The National Park Foundation joins the Flight 93 National Memorial partnership to execute a nationwide capital campaign for the new park.

2009
The National Park Foundation supports the creation of the park’s official charitable partner, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, to provide direct philanthropic support to the park’s initiatives.

The first groundbreaking ceremony is held, initiating the construction of a permanent memorial at the park.

2011
The first phase of the memorial is completed. The park’s Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, 40 Memorial Groves, and the Field of Honor are dedicated and opened to the public.

2013
The National Park Foundation announces its successful completion of the Flight 93 National Memorial Capital Campaign. Through the support of over 110,000 contributors – comprised of individuals, corporations, and foundations, with at least one from every state in the country – over $40 million is raised to fund the primary construction of the memorial.

The National Park Service breaks ground on the new visitor center complex.

2015
The second phase of the memorial is completed. The park’s visitor center opens, unveiling exhibits that use photos, audio and visual components, as well as tactile models and artifacts to illustrate the magnitude of the events that took place that day.

2016
The Allée trees encircling the impact site are dedicated.

2017
A soundbreaking ceremony is held for the final phase of the original design of the memorial and construction begins on the 93-foot-tall Tower of Voices. The tower, which will contain 40 wind chimes (each with a unique tone to symbolize the voices of each lost on Flight 93), is funded by a $6 million grant from the National Park Foundation. 

2018
A dedication ceremony is held to complete the final phase of construction on the Tower of Voices.

Ongoing Ways to Remember

Reforestation efforts at the park continue through annual planting events – the ultimate goal being to plant 150,000 new trees. An annual washing of the wall also occurs in the Spring.

On September 10, forty lanterns are placed below the names of each passenger and crew member during a luminaria event.

To observe the anniversary of September 11, an open-air service is held during which the names of each of the 40 passengers and crew members is read aloud and the Bells of Remembrance ring to honor their memory.

Group wearing neon green shirts walking down a path of a row of planted trees.
Linda Seanor, Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial

An annual walk is held to raise awareness and funds for Flight 93 National Memorial.

Though annual nationwide tributes are held during the month of September, Flight 93 National Memorial endures as a place where visitors can pay tribute and remember year-round. The once quiet field, turned hallowed ground exemplifies the best of the human spirit – it commemorates an instance when 40 ordinary individuals joined together to change the course of history.

The national park now exists because that notion moved others to follow suit; it exists because private citizens felt compelled to honor the spirit of what they did and come together to support preserving this site so that future generations will never forget what happened here – so that their valor will ring through time.

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