SHANKSVILLE, Somerset County, Pa. (WTAJ) — 19 years ago the eyes of the nation turned their attention to a small field in rural Somerset County, the impact site of United Airlines Flight 93. Today, the site is home of Flight 93 National Memorial in honor of the heroism of the 40 passengers and crew members who stood in the face of terror to prevent further carnage from reaching Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.
“We can look back as a nation, 19 years later, and there is a huge debt owed to the individuals on that plane,” says Adam Shaffer, Chief Of Interpretation and Education and Flight 93 Memorial.
The first thing that greets visitors at the memorial is Tower Of Voices. It currently has 8 prototype chimes of the 40 that will be installed to honor the passengers and crew. “That will ultimately represent the voices of the passengers and crew who were on board this flight,” Shaffer explains, “it’s a symbolic tribute of their voices, their everlasting voices.”
The visitor’s center has interactive displays chronicling the events of Flight 93. This includes audio from the passengers and crew’s phone calls placed while on the plane. Currently, the center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for healthy visitors and is limited to a one-way entrance and exit due to the pandemic. Shaffer says that the center and some exhibits may be temporarily closed from time to time due to crowds and social distancing.
The Memorial Plaza is home to the Wall Of Names and the impact site of Flight 93. The Wall Of Names leads to a wooden gate made of hemlock. It leads to the impact site and is only opened after the ceremony in September for the families of the 40 passengers and crew.
The exhibits and the visitor’s center are connected by two trails that total over two miles in length. Shaffer details, “It takes visitors across an 800 foot long wetlands bridge which is on the same curvature as the trail, the whole way, as it descends from the visitor’s center down to the Memorial Plaza.”
Shaffer says that no matter how the situation with the Coronavirus Pandemic progresses, there will be a ceremony on September 11 no matter what.