My Experience at the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial in Shanksville, PA

October 26th, 2009

On Saturday I visited the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial in Shanksvile, PA. It was a very moving and touching experience.

Please view the Facebook photo gallery. I took great care to photograph as much as I could, because soon the federal government will take down the temporary memorial to make way for the permanent memorial. I encourage everyone to visit it as soon as possible, as the Feds will break ground on the new memorial November 9, 2009.

Lots of pictures, and my thoughts on the temporary and the planned permanent memorial, after the jump.

The Flight 93 Temporary Memorial, sited across the field where Flight 93 crashed is in the middle of nowhere. That is no coincidence. I had the good fortune to listen to a Park Ranger give a fantastic discussion of the sequence of events leading up to the crash. The brave souls on Flight 93 discussed trying to down the plane in an open field, not near any major cities, so as to minimize damage. On recordings, the passengers remarked that they had passed Pittsburgh, and wanted to attempt to crash the suicide mission in an isolated area. And so they did.

When you drive down the bumpy road, you see in the distance an American and Pennsylvanian flag flying high. Then you see the memorial. It is much smaller than I imagined, but its quaintness bespeaks its significances and power.

The monument was designed in an ad hoc fashion. People from all over the world came to this site, and brought with them many touching tributes. There are plaques adorning the floor, with inscriptions to various passengers of the flight. There are crosses and other religious icons, praying for the brave souls on the flight. There are a series of benches, each adorned with the name of two passengers on the flight. There are thousands of trinkets left by visitors of the memorial, to signify a special emotion they felt. These trinkets include flags, pins, crosses, toys, license plates, and thousands of other items.

What makes this monument so moving is how it was created. This was not the result of government planning. This was not the result of a coordinated effort. Rather, this monument resulted from the warmth in the hearts of thousands of visitors from around the World. These visitors recognized the heroism and selflessness of the passengers and reached deep into their hearts, and found a way to make their tribute permanent.

Perhaps the most touching aspect of the experience was seeing the spot in the field where the plane crashed. In the picture below, look for a white speck. That is an American flag, indicating the point of impact.

As some of you may know, the Federal Government is planning on creating a permanent memorial. Check out a brochure for the permanent memorial. Unfortunately, they will need to remove the temporary memorial. When I asked the park ranger what the government would do with the artifacts in the temporary memorial, she sad they would be removed and displaed at the permanent memorial on a rotating basis.

This plan is unfortunate. The spontaneity and warmth emanating from this temporary memorial is a fitting tribute to the heroes of Flight 93.

God bless the families and friends of Flight 93 Passengers, and God bless America.