Pennsylvania Memorial Casts Light in the Darkness of 9/11

Park commemorates the 'ultimate sacrifice' of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 in preventing a fourth strike

The Tower of Voices honors the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. (Pubic Domain Photo: Brenda T. Schwartz/National Park Service)
The Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial (Public Domain Photo).

Despite the widespread terror and tragedy that 9/11 caused, one glimmer of hope and heroism stood strong amid the wreckage: the story of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93.

The aircraft was crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after its 40 passengers and crew members took it back from the hijackers. It was the only plane in the 9/11 attacks to not reach its final destination.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is unique from the 9/11 memorials in New York and D.C. It is a national park that focuses on the story of 9/11 and honors the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed that day.

The park includes a Wall of Names and Tower of Voices, in addition to installations highlighting the flight path and crash site. Many visitors have helped to plant memorial trees at the park.

“Everyone should visit Flight 93 National Memorial,” says Katie Cordek, public information officer. “It’s such an important piece of American history. … It will give you a different view of September 11th.”

“People often think of the loss of life and not the human story.”

An inside view of chimes in the Tower of Voices (Public Domain Photo: Tami Heilemann/Depart of the Interior).

Cordek wants people to know that the plane was carrying 40 unique people traveling for unique reasons who came together to “put true democracy in action” and “really change the course of history.”

And that spirit, she says, is what she hopes Americans carry on today, especially in such challenging times.

Though the Flight 93 Memorial enshrines one fateful moment, it is not impervious to the effects of the tragedies of today. Cordek see how the attitudes and perceptions of visitors alter in things like comment cards. She remembers that vividly after the Paris shooting, for example.

Cordek hopes that people “take inspiration from their actions … and stand up when you see something wrong going on.”

She notes that some passengers were not even Americans; three foreign passengers hailed from Germany, Japan and New Zealand.

Hope gave the passengers courage to do what they did that day, Cordek says, and others should all have that same hope.