In college a group of friends and I traveled to Matt's home in Pittsburgh. We spent some time in Hidden Valley, a ski resort and in some of the surrounding areas. While driving around we fell upon the crash sight of Flight 93. This was the flight headed for Washington D.C. but was crashed by the terrorists once they realized that the passengers of the flight were going to succeed at over taking it. Imagine that scene. Imagine being a passenger. Imagine calling your spouse to discover this was a well thought out plan; a plan 12 years in the making...
It's unimaginable. My heart aches at the reality of this all.
I am thankful that I was at least the age I was when 9/11 occurred. I was about 15. Old enough to recognize the seriousness of it all. I can still remember pre-9/11 and can quickly tell you all that has changed post-9/11. Sure I was young, but my empathy was already developed and my desire to know why such a thing happened was present.
So when my college friends and I discovered the Flight 93 "make-shift" memorial (back in 2007) I understood the seriousness. I felt the powerful emotions the crash site possessed. I was over come with sadness that this had to be a reality.
Since my first visit to the crash sight, I have been there two more times. A lot has changed in the last 5 years or so. Matt and I, along with his mama visited the fairly new National Memorial this past week. They have started the permanent memorial-- having taken down the "make-shift" memorial. It was strange to see the original memorial gone. It was created quickly after the crash and stood for almost ten years. It was a place that people could leave their thoughts, prayers, feelings... But I do understand the necessity of a permanent memorial. Something for all of time, and for our children and then their children to come see.
Here is a glimpse of the Flight 93 memorial in 2007:
And here is the start of the permanent memorial. There is still some stuff to be completed. The new memorial was dedicated and opened on the ten year anniversary of 9/11. I look forward to going back in a couple years to see the completed project.
The flight path of Flight 93. Originally headed for California. It was ceased by the terrorists over Cleveland and then crashed in Shanksville , PA.
The crash sight 15 minutes after impact.
All crew members and passengers passed away. 40 in all.
Beyond this gate is the present day crash sight. The large crater was filled in by the county coroner. He believed leaving it open was as if leaving exposed an open grave. So now a rock and several flags mark the spot.
A wall with all 40 names displayed:
The path leading up to the wall of names:
A wall has been set up to leave notes to those who gave up their lives so a lot more people didn't have to.
I am proud to be an American. I know we are not perfect, and sometimes our countries' decisions hurt a lot of people... but I can't be more thankful for our freedoms and for the life I live.