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Contact: Lisa Linden, (917)589-5443
"UPON THIS SACRED GROUND, COURAGE REMEMBERED"
Heroes of Flight 93 Honored in 8th Annual September 11 Commemoration in Shanksville, PA
General Colin Powell, Secretary Ken Salazar, Secretary Tom Ridge, General Tommy Franks, Country Singer Trace Adkins Join National Park Service, Families of Flight 93, Flight 93 Memorial Partners and Thousands of People to Honor and Remember the Heroes of Flight 93
Shanksville, PA, September 11, 2009 –With the American flag marking the crash site of United Flight 93 in the fields of Shanksville, PA as backdrop, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret) – who served as Secretary of State on September 11, 2001 – today delivered the keynote remarks to thousands gathered to pay homage to the 40 "modern Minute Men and Women" who fought the terrorists and gave their lives to protect the nation’s values, ideals and democratic institutions.
Joining General Powell at the podium in commemorating this year’s solemn eighth anniversary titled, "Upon this Sacred Ground, Courage Remembered," were U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who provided welcoming remarks, and the honorary co-chairs of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign, former PA Governor and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge and General Tommy R. Franks, USA (Ret). A moving tribute was offered by Gordon W. Felt, President, Families of Flight 93, whose brother Edward was a passenger and hero. National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach gave the closing remarks; Flight 93 National Memorial Superintendent Joanne Hanley acted as mistress of ceremonies.
The event was graced by the stirring performance of singer Trace Adkins who led the gathering in the Star Spangled Banner. Prayer ceremonies were led by Rev. Robert J. Way of the Good Shepherd Cooperative, Lutheran Ministries, Somerset County. Rev. Paul M. Britton of the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Huntington Station, NY, whose sister Marion was a passenger and hero, offered a moment of silence.
As part of the ceremony, pure and mournful Bells of Remembrance were tolled and the names of each of the 40 heroes were read aloud. Family members and dignitaries also laid wreaths at the crash site.
The event took place on the future site of the Flight 93 National Memorial, the only national park unit dedicated to the events of September 11, 2001. On September 24, 2002, the Flight 93 National Memorial Act became law creating a new national park and memorial dedicated to the 40 passenger and crew members of United Flight 93. The memorial’s mission is to protect and honor the mortal remains of these heroes on the Sacred Ground where the plane hit the earth. The memorial will ensure that people understand and learn about the events of the tragic day.
The memorial park sits on 2,231 acres in Somerset County, approximately 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh. It will include the crash site, debris field and extent of human remains – the final resting places of the heroes – as well as visitor facilities, infrastructure and access roadways. The National Park Service (NPS) recently completed all agreements to acquire the remaining lands so construction may begin in the Fall of 2009.
The design by Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles – a firm known for its environmental design sensitivity – was chosen in 2005 after an international competition that included more than 1,000 entries. When completed, the memorial will feature a curving arc of 40 Memorial Groves of 40 trees each along a walkway framing a Field of Honor, with a focus on the crash site. At the western end of the curving field will be an Entry Portal, approached through a clearing of trees on a black slate plaza. High walls will frame the sky of the plane’s Flight Path to the crash site. Adjacent to the Flight Path will be the Visitor Center. A sloped, stone wall will form the edge to the crash site within the Sacred Ground. The fields of the Sacred Ground will be planted with flowers. A white stone slab and gate, on axis with the flight path, will provide ceremonial entry to the Sacred Ground for family members. The latest rendition of the memorial design is attached.
In the future, a second phase of the design will add a 93-foot high Tower of Voices containing 40 wind chimes evocative of the last sounds that the heroes heard that day.
The cost of first phase of the National Memorial is $58 million of which $30 million will be paid for through private contributions. The balance is obtained through state and federal funds. Since 2005, more than 50,000 donors – both large and small from across the nation and around the world – have raised over $15.5 million. At the memorial ceremony tribute was paid to those individuals and companies whose crucial contributions are leading the way to help to make the National Memorial a reality.
A temporary memorial currently sits on a hilltop overlooking the crash site, now solemnly enclosed by a fence and carpeted with wildflowers. At another fence, visitors have left over 30,000 mementoes, tributes and artwork including religious symbols, notes, flowers, flags and other forms of respect. Visitors also record their thoughts in journals maintained by volunteers and staff. The NPS catalogs and preserves these tributes. Some of these will be part of the permanent Flight 93 National Memorial. More than one million people from 120 countries and all 50 states have visited the site.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Flight 93 National Memorial is planned for November 7, 2009 with the initial phase of the National Memorial on track to be dedicated on September 11, 2011.