Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Flight 93 Memorial

I was in Pennsylvania for a photo-shoot at an 1860s era wool mill and decided to stay over one more day so I could visit the memorial to Flight 93 in Shanksville.

I was at work on Capitol Hill on 9-11-2001. I saw the reports on the first plane hitting the Twin Towers in New York and was watching, live, when the second plane hit.

My staff and I evacuated our building and were on the street when the third plane hit the Pentagon.

We heard the explosion, saw the smoke.

Rumors flew. The Old Executive Office Building had been hit. The bridges out of the city were closed. There were other planes, flying bombs, in coming.

The streets were gridlocked, horns blaring, sirens. People on foot had strange, dazed looks to their faces.

About 20 or so of us took shelter in the apartment of a Congressman. He had no television and barely any furniture. We sat on the floor and listened to the radio. Mostly silent, in shock.

News reports broadcast that Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Later, we found out the passengers...learning of the other crashed planes...decided to try and take back the save themselves, to save others.

On September 11, 2001 United Flight 93 was only 20 minutes flight time from the nation's capital when the passengers and crew of the plane rushed the cockpit in an effort to overpower the hijackers. Flight 93 crashed in a field outside the town of Shanksville in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.
I knew I had to see the ground they had made their own.

Flag, Flight 93 Memorial Plaza

I visited on a cold and bitter day in late March, the wind was knife-cold, winter lingered. The memorial is in a large area of open fields, the peacefulness of fields in direct contrast to the horror of what happened here.

I knew this would be an emotional visit, but I was unprepared for the intensity of the overwhelming sorrow I felt upon viewing that single boulder marking the point of impact.

Point of Impact
I will be forever grateful to the passengers and crew of Flight 93, for their courage, for their compassion, for their willingness to take a risk to save themselves, to save others.


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