United Flight 93 Memorial
By Linda Brown
After leaving Fallingwater, we headed for Shanksville, PA, the site of the 9/11 plane crash.
Upon approaching the site, you take a road which is covered in cinders and made for some harrowing ‘fishtale slides’ as you go down one hill. Then, going up the next hill, it seemed as though you were going off the end of the world as you couldn’t see what was on the other side of the crest. It already felt eerie.
The parking lot was quite small and surrounded by galvanized rails. The first thing that I noticed was a feeling that this was someplace sacred – that to talk would be sacrilegious. Then I noticed that every inch of the galvanized rails were covered in black marker messages – such as We Love and Miss You. We’ll Never Forget You.
To the right, there were several monuments: one dedicated by a group of motorcyclists that make a trek to the site every year; one from the President of the United States, and several others. Just beyond that, a large ‘wall’ which made up a grid of some kind of sturdy metal, and was practically COVERED with mementos left by mourners. There were jackets and helmets from a fire department, t-shirts, pins, scarves, rosary beads, any and everything that people had to leave their messages.
Just past and to the left, were small wooden angels painted in red, white and blue and had the name of each person who died on that plane. These were also adorned with rosary beads, necklaces and messages from loved ones.
Benches were provided for people to sit and meditate and these also had the names of the victims on them. I sat on the bench for Hilda Marcin as she was the mother of a fellow from my town of Budd Lake. It was very difficult to keep the tears from flowing and I noticed that others were crying as well. I find it difficult, even now, to write this story.
A local TV station had a cameraman there asking those present what kind of memorial they thought would be suitable for the site. Carol Pieretti agreed to be interviewed and was told it would be shown that night on the news. As it turned out, the interview was shown the following morning, but most of us missed it while getting packed to leave.
In the middle of the area, there is a wooden structure that I learned later was built by a fire department (from Georgia I think) and hauled all the way up by the firemen, so that the volunteers who were there during the day to answer questions, had somewhere to go in inclement weather.
Time was short because it took longer at Fallingwater than planned, so we had only about a half hour here. The actual site of the crash was WAY far down in a field with a fence surrounding it, and an American flag hanging on the fence, looked so small.
There was a small ‘podium’ type of structure on the far side of the building, which had index cards available if you felt compelled to write a little note. These notes were to be included in a time capsule which would be buried in the monument when it was completed. I was quite moved by the site and had only a few moments to write my feelings on the little card.
Since I was born and raised about an hour West from here, I felt very close and very much a part of the whole area. My Mother still lives in my childhood home and she told me that the plane had actually flown over her house and someone had seen the wings tipping (when the pilot tried to keep the passengers from gaining entry to the cockpit, I imagine).
Upon leaving the site, with a big lump in my throat, I determined to
bring my children and grandchildren there someday. I don’t EVER
want people to forget what happened that day. May God continue to Bless
America and may we NEVER forget these brave heroes. To me, they embody
the true Spirit that built this great country.
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