Carolyn’s Online Magazine
THE ORIGINAL FLIGHT 93
CRASH SITE MEMORIAL:
A DESCRIPTIVE WRITING
On Thursday, 10 September 2015, the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center Complex will be dedicated.
As time passes, people will forget the original spontaneous memorial site, its intimate smallness overtaken and dwarfed by the new Visitor Center Complex. Therefore, I’m reposting my descriptive write-up of the original memorial, first published in CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS on September 7, 2008.
The following is a description of the Flight 93 Crash Site Memorial formed spontaneously following the September 11 events. The scene evolved over the years, and is now being moved in preparation for a major memorial construction.
A small parking lot on the left side of Skyline Drive, Stoneybrook Township, has four Portapotties. Beyond them, on a distant hill, under high voltage lines spanning open fields, two obsolete cranes stretch skyward.
A parking area on the right roadside abuts the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial site.
Restrictions, enforced by the Somerset County Sheriffs Deputies, are posted: “No solicitation, concessions, brochures or advertisements; No installation of structure, permanent or otherwise; No planting of flowers, trees or shrubs; No loitering or overnight parking.”
A sign on a gray hut donated by the Assateague Island National Seashore requests Please do not write on this shelter or on any other surfaces at the temporary memorial. You may record your thoughts in our visitor’s book or on the blank cards provided.
A signature book adds messages Praise God for Your Courage; Bless these Souls, Thank You All.
Nonetheless, guardrails carry messages: Thank you for protecting us…GOD BLESS AMERICA; UNITED WE STAND; playwright Larry Myers “Utopia Rescheduled” God’s Crossward Puzzlement, Theater for (illegible) City, Plays about 9/11…and stickers—Schuylkill Haven Borough Police Department; a yellow ribbon asking visitors “Support Our Troops…”
A black marble tablet bordered in white-etched motorcycle drawings reads: “On September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 gave their lives. They made this choice so that an unknown number of people could live, people they never met. The people aboard Flight 93 gave the ultimate sacrifice. Motorcyclists from all over the free world leave this memorial as a tribute to you. Thank you for your Sacrifice. May God bless you and your families… America’s 9/11 Ride Foundation, Inc.”
Another black marble plaque, surrounded by small American flags, patriotic silk flowers, two angel statuettes and small rocks, begins
“LET’S ROLL…IN MEMORIAM” and continues:
THOSE GALLANT PASSANGERS AND FLIGHT CREW MEMBERS OF UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 93 THAT ON SEPTEMBER 11TH 2001. DEFEATED THE COWARD TERRORIST HIJACKERS AND THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE. BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS…FOR THEIR HEROISM HAS ALLOWED FREEDOM TO GO ON RINGING. WE HONOR YOU… WE ADMIRE YOU… WE SALUTE YOU… …AND WE SHALL NEVER FORGET MAY THIS LAND REMAIN FOREVER… AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. GUATAMALA
Dominating the site is a 40-foot long, 8-foot high, chain link fence covered with memorabilia. A fireman’s light-brown jacket, signed by Joe Black, First Lieutenant Tom Twerdy…et al, with Shanksville in reflective yellow letters, hangs spread-eagled on the fence. Other items include safety hats from Eaton Emergency Medical; Berlin VFD; Kiski Twnshp. VFD; and Stat Med Vac; license plates from the (Pa.) Antique Automobile, N. J. handicapped; Life Flt. Crew; and badges of Viet Nam Veterans, Westlake Police, and others.
Messages—God Bless America; God Bless Flight 93; Thanks! Peace!; Remember, That day will never be forgotten; SOAR WITH THE EAGLES —are scattered among USA flags, teddy bears, ball caps and a multitude of other items, all continually reshaping the memorial marked by seven specially designed flags flying along the fence top.
A sign informs visitors of the work of the Historical & Genealogical Society of Somerset County: “We leave items at the memorial for as long as weather permits. If you left a tribute and it is no longer here, we have preserved and safely stored it for the Flight 93 National Memorial collection.”
People surround a guide telling the Flight 93 story. He shows them the first crash site picture, taken by an oil distributor who witnessed the planes’ 575 m. p. h. descent. Its plunge created a gigantic crater, the guide explains. Debris sank 54 feet into the ground; the black box was buried 45 feet. Wind blew mail more than eight miles away.
He pointed across the field…where 500 yards away a barely visible chain link fence encloses 29 acres of land marked by a flag. THAT is the sacred burial ground of forty passengers and crew…and the four hijackers. Seeing may not be believing, since there is nothing to see—nothing but a tree line fronted by acreage indistinguishable from the surrounding reclaimed strip mine. Only Flight 93 family members are permitted at the fence.
The cross beam of a 12-foot high cross, created from 4×4 inch boards, is wound with a white cloth. The post is covered with signatures, messages and stickers.
Near the cross an upright black granite slab lists forty names, framed and lettered in gold: This memorial is in memory of the brave men and women who gave their lives to save so many others. Their courage and love of our country will be a source of strength and comfort to our great nation. God Bless America.
Fifteen visitors signed a boulder: SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATORS DELEGATION TO GARRETT COUNTY, MARYLAND, MAY 2004. A black, gold, green, white, and blue flag is painted on the rock.
Forty slate angels—backs to the distant chain link fence—wear red, white and blue skirts, and have three stars on each metal wing. Some are unadorned. Others are draped in colorful beads and/or surrounded by pictures and silk flower arrangements.
A triangular rock pointing skyward. Engraved on it are “God Bless America,” a U. S. flag and “United We Stand.”
Wood park benches face a strip mine pond and a distant barn and silo. Names of the heroes are carved in white letters on the backrests.
It was an ordinary pastoral field at sunrise, September 11, 2001. It became sacred ground at 10:06 a. m.