Flight 93 National Memorial

Flight 93 National Memorial
Flight 93 National Memorial
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
Map showing the location of Flight 93 National Memorial
Map showing the location of Flight 93 National Memorial
Location Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, USA
Nearest city Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°3′3″N 78°54′13″W / 40.05083°N 78.90361°W / 40.05083; -78.90361Coordinates: 40°3′3″N 78°54′13″W / 40.05083°N 78.90361°W / 40.05083; -78.90361
Area 2,200 acres (890 ha), 1,000 acres (400 ha) federal
Established September 24, 2002
Visitors 125,000 (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service

The Flight 93 National Memorial is located at the site of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked in the September 11 attacks, in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Shanksville, and 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. The memorial was made to honor the passengers of Flight 93, who stopped the terrorists from reaching their target. A temporary memorial to the 40 victims was established soon after the crash, and the first phase of the permanent memorial was completed, opened and dedicated on September 10, 2011. The current design for the memorial is a modified version of the entry Crescent of Embrace by Paul and Milena Murdoch.


United Airlines Flight 93

Of the four aircraft hijacked on September 11, Flight 93 is the only one that did not reach its intended target, presumed to be the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.[1] Several passengers and crew members made telephone calls aboard the flight and learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As a result, the passengers decided to mount an assault against the hijackers and wrest control of the aircraft. The plane crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., killing all 44 people aboard, including the four hijackers.

The crash site is located west of Skyline Road, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of U.S. Route 30 (Lincoln Highway), 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Indian Lake, and approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Shanksville in Stonycreek Township.

Temporary memorial

Bronze plaque of names of passengers and crew.

The site of the crash is enclosed by a fence and is closed to the public except for victims' family members. The temporary memorial is located on a hillside 500 yards (460 m) from the crash site. The memorial includes a 40-foot (to commemorate the 40 passengers and crew) chain-link fence on which visitors can leave flowers, flags, hats, rosaries, and other items. The items are collected by the National Park Service and stored until a permanent memorial is built.[2]

Many cities wanted to memorialize the heroes of United Flight 93. Among the first was Marshall, Texas which by order of the City Commission, named "United Flight 93" a street in early 2002. The keynote speaker was Barbara Catuzzi, the mother of victim Lauren Grandcolas.[3]

Next to the fence are several memorials such as a bronze plaque of names, flags, and a large cross. The temporary memorial also includes a row of small wooden angels, one for each passenger or crew member. There are also handwritten messages on the guardrails at the memorial.[2] At the memorial site, there is also a small building where visitors can sign a guestbook. The building is staffed by National Park Service volunteers, called ambassadors, who answer questions. In the years following the attacks, approximately 150,000 visitors each year have come to the memorial site,[4] a number that reached "nearly a million people" as of July 2008.[5]

The temporary memorial, for years on land leased for the memorial by Svonavec, Inc. (a coal company based in Somerset, Pennsylvania), was moved in 2008 because Svonavec refused to renew the lease.[5] It was moved across the road, on land that is part of about 900 acres (360 ha) that the Families of Flight 93 foundation bought in 2008.[5] Svonavec had leased the land as it negotiated with the NPS over the purchase of the 273 acres (110 ha) it owned, land that includes most of the "sacred ground" where Flight 93 crashed; Svonavec’s treasurer, Michael Svonavec, had told the family group he thought the land was "worth $50 million, but you can have it for $10 million".[5] The NPS had offered Svonavec $250,000 for the 273 acres (1.10 km2), an offer repeatedly rejected;[5] in August 2009, it was announced that Svonavec agreed to sell the land based on a price determined by the courts.[6]

Permanent memorial

On March 7, 2002, Congressman John Murtha (PA-12) introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives to establish a National Memorial to be developed by a commission, and ultimately administered by the National Park Service. On April 16, 2002, Senator Arlen Specter (PA) introduced a version of the "Flight 93 National Memorial Act" in the Senate. On September 10, 2002 the bill passed both houses of Congress. The final bill specifically excluded the four hijackers from being memorialized. When signed by President George W. Bush on September 24, 2002, it became Public Law No. 107-226, and the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[citation needed] By September 2005, the commission was required to send to the Secretary of the Interior and Congress recommendations for the planning, design, construction, and long-term management of a permanent memorial.

The proposed boundaries of the National Memorial extend from Lambertsville Road to U.S. Route 30. It will be about 2,200 acres (890 ha), of which about 1,000 acres (400 ha) will be privately held, but protected through partnership agreements. The memorial itself would be a 400-acre (160 ha) bowl-shaped area, with 1,800 acres (730 ha) surrounding as a buffer.[7] In December 2002, landowner Tim Lambert donated 6 acres (2.4 ha) at the crash site, and entered discussions with the Conservation Fund regarding 160 acres (65 ha) additional.[8] Using some funds donated from receipts for the film United 93, the Families of Flight 93 organization purchased 3 acres (1.2 ha) in the summer of 2006. The organization is also seeking $10 million in federal funding to use for acquiring land.[7] In November 2006, the Conservation Fund acquired 100 acres (40 ha) as buffer land which are to be managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.[9] PBS Coals Inc. sold 900 acres (360 ha) to the families' organization in March 2008.[10]

The Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign is a partnership among the Families of Flight 93, the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission, the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force, the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and many representatives of local, state and national organizations, agencies and interests, as well as people from around the world to build a permanent memorial. Launched in 2005, this public-private partnership is seeking to raise $30 million from philanthropic individuals, corporations and foundations to enable the construction of the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Design competition

Wreath-laying ceremony near the site of the crash of Flight 93 on the first anniversary of its hijacking.

Initial design selection

The commission decided to select the final design for the memorial through a multi-stage design competition funded by grants from the Heinz Foundations and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The competition began on September 11, 2004. With technology from Neighborhood America (now INgage Networks) supporting the competition, more than 1,000 entries were submitted online.[11] In February 2005, five finalists were selected for further development and consideration. The 15-member final jury included family members, design and art professionals, and community and national leaders. After three days of review and debate, they announced the winner on September 7, 2005: Crescent of Embrace by a design team led by Paul and Milena Murdoch of Los Angeles.[4]

The design featured a "Tower of Voices," containing 40 wind chimes — one for each passenger and crew member who died. A crescent would have been formed by a circular pathway lined with red maple trees that follows the natural bowl shape of the land. Forty groves of red and sugar maples and eastern white oak trees were to be planted behind the crescent. A black slate wall would mark the edge of the crash site, where the victims are buried.


This design "drew criticism from some religious groups and online blogs."[12] One person wrote in his blog that:[13]

The winning design chosen to memorialize the heroes and victims of 9/11’s Flight 93 is in the shape of a red crescent that looks—either accidentally or intentionally—remarkably like an Islamic crescent.
...[A]n azimuthal equidistant world map ... seems to indicate that the crescent is oriented toward Mecca.

Jury member Tom Burnett Sr., whose son was killed in the crash, said he made an impassioned speech to his fellow jurors about what he felt the crescent represented, "I explained this goes back centuries as an old-time Islamic symbol," Burnett said. "I told them we'd be a laughing stock if we did this."[14] Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado has opposed the design's shape "because of the crescent's prominent use as a symbol in Islam." Mike Rosen of the Rocky Mountain News wrote: "On the anniversaries of 9/11, it's not hard to visualize al-Qaeda celebrating the crescent of maple trees, turning red in the fall, "embracing" the Flight 93 crash site. To them, it would be a memorial to their fallen martyrs. Why invite that? Just come up with a different design that eliminates the double meaning and the dispute."[15]

The architect asserted that this is coincidental and that there was no intent to refer to Muslim symbols. Several victims' families agreed, including the family of Edward P. Felt.[16]

Others criticized the design as too non-representational. "We don't need giant statues of the guys ramming the drink cart into the door. But pedantic though such a monument might be, future generations would infer the plot. All you get from a Crescent of Embrace is a sorrowful sigh of all-encompassing grief and absolution, as if the lives of all who died on that spot were equal in tragedy. They were not," wrote James Lileks, a journalist and architectural commentator.[17]

Design modifications

In response to criticism, the designer has agreed to modify the plan. The architect believes that the central elements can be maintained to satisfy criticism. "It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, then that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities," Murdoch said in a telephone interview to the Associated Press.[18]

The redesigned memorial has the plain shape of a circle (as opposed to a crescent) bisected by the flight's trajectory. "The circle enhances the earlier design by putting more emphasis on the crash site, officials said in the newsletter. A break in the trees will symbolize the path the plane took as it crashed."[19]

The redesign has been unveiled and can be seen at the NPS official web page for the memorial. Architect Paul Murdoch describes it as follows:

"The image is an aerial view from the bowl looking towards the Sacred Ground. To the left in the background, a walkway approaches from an arrival court along the edge of and overlooking the Sacred Ground. The walkway eventually widens in from a ceremonial gate, shown in bronze, and the wall of names, composed of 40 panels of 3-inch (7.6 cm)-thick slabs of polished white granite, 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, each inscribed with a name of the 40 heroes. Two walls flanking the gate are clad in polished white granite and the flight path is paved with black granite. Beyond the gate is the impact site, shown planted with wildflowers, and the hemlock grove beyond."[20]

Paul Murdoch Architects worked with graphic design consultants, Impact Design Associates and ALT Design to conduct typographic studies to arrive at the approved visual representation of the 40 hero names. The objective for the representation of the names was to create a design that has the quality of being contemplative and inspirational, and would evoke a timeless tribute to the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93.

The font Whitney-Semibold Small Caps was chosen for its simplicity and the angular detail of select letter forms. The angular detail relates to subtle architectural elements of the memorial design. Each name is cut into a 30 x 96 inch white marble panel with a horizontal brushed black stainless steel inlay.


The cost of the permanent memorial is estimated at $60 million. As of March 2011, $20 million in private donations had been raised, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania was providing $18.5 million, and Congress had appropriated $10 million.[21] In March 2011, the families of the victims of Flight 93 urged Congress to appropriate $3.7 million more in the fiscal year 2012 budget.[21] The permanent memorial was originally planned for dedication on September 11, 2011;[22] however, the pace of construction has been delayed[23] due to, among other factors, shortage of funding and the general economic downturn in America. Ground was broken on November 8, 2009[24] but as of autumn 2011, completion is still some way into the future. The first phase of the memorial was dedicated on September 10, 2011 at a public ceremony attended by Vice President Joe Biden, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House John Boehner, other dignitaries and family members of the passengers, and thousands of others.[25] During the ceremony, Clinton announced that he and Boehner would launch a fundraising effort to raise the $10 million required to complete the memorial.[26][27] Singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan performed both Angel and I Will Remember You at the dedication ceremony.

See also

  • U.S. Route 219 in Pennsylvania – close to the crash site and now partially the "Flight 93 Memorial Highway"


  1. ^ "Al-Jazeera offers accounts of 9/11 planning". CNN. 2002-09-12. http://archives.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/09/12/alqaeda.911.claim/index.html. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  2. ^ a b Curl, Joseph (September 10, 2002). "Visitors flock to Flight 93 crash site". The Washington Times. 
  3. ^ minutes of the Marshall City Commission November 2001
  4. ^ a b Goldstein, Steve (September 8, 2005). "Memorial to Flight 93 finalized; "The Crescent of Embrace" will honor the passengers and crew who died in Shanksville, Pa., on 9/11. It's "a place to heal."". Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Hamill, Sean D. (July 28, 2008). "Land Dispute Moves Memorial for 9/11 Victims Across a Pennsylvania Road". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/28/washington/28memorial.html. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  6. ^ "National Park Service Signs Agreements with Owners on Land for Flight 93 Memorial". Press release. U.S. Department of the Interior. August 31, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-02. http://web.archive.org/web/20091002085225/http://www.doi.gov/news/09_News_Releases/083109b.html. Retrieved 2009-09-01. "According to Acting NPS Director Dan Wenk, the NPS was successful in reaching negotiated settlements with 7 of 8 property owners. In January, the eighth property owner Svonavec Incorporated, came to a mutual agreement with the NPS to allow the courts to establish fair compensation for the property. The NPS expects that the U.S. Department of Justice will file the court documents for the Svonavec property within the next two weeks. "We expect closings on the remaining properties to be complete by mid-October, which allows construction to begin immediately after our groundbreaking in November," Wenk said. "This keeps us on-track to complete the Memorial by September 11, 2011. On September 3–11, 2009 Ride with the 40 is completing the flight path of Flight 93 with a memorial ride from Shanksville PA to San Francisco CA. Ride with the 40 is a group of family members and friends of the 40 innocent men and women who were on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. They are joined by many patriots who are making the pilgrimage to raise money to complete the memorial and pay homage to those brave men and women who lost their lives that day."" 
  7. ^ a b Worden, Amy (2006-09-10). "Flight 93 memorial gets momentum; The purchase of land near Shanksville, Pa., began with "a first small step" of three acres". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  8. ^ Levin, Steve (2002-12-06). "Flight 93 memorial gets a lift". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  9. ^ "100 acres (0.40 km2) near Flight 93 memorial is acquired". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2006-11-02. 
  10. ^ Hamill, Sean D. (2008-03-19). "Flight 93 Memorial Effort Gains Over 900 acres". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/19/us/19memorial.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  11. ^ Lake, Alison (Nov 10, 2006). "Field of Honor". Public CIO magazine. Government Technology. http://www.govtech.com/pcio/articles/102206. 
  12. ^ Jennifer Lucchino (October 1, 2005). "'Crescent of Embrace' chosen for Flight 93 Memorial design". Architectural Record. http://archrecord.construction.com/news/daily/archives/050915flight93.asp. 
  13. ^ "zombie" (September 8, 2005). "Flight 93 Memorial Project". zombietime. http://www.zombietime.com/flight_93_memorial_project/. 
  14. ^ Paula Reed Ward (September 16, 2005). "Designer of Flight 93 memorial receptive to changes". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05259/572574.stm. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  15. ^ Mike Rosen (September 22, 2005). "Let's roll, sans crescent". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2005-12-14. http://web.archive.org/web/20051214163041/http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_86_4102007,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-23. [dead link]
  16. ^ Hamill, Sean D. (2008-05-04). "Design of a memorial to Flight 93 keeps families sparring". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/world/americas/04iht-shrine.4.12556290.html. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  17. ^ September 11th Memorials - The Construction Continues
  18. ^ Flight 93 design provokes uproar
  19. ^ A 9/11 Tribute Loses Its Crescent Shape
  20. ^ New Image of Flight 93 National Memorial Unveiled
  21. ^ a b Families of United Flight 93 Heroes Call on Congress to Approve $3.7 Million More in Memorial Funding
  22. ^ Smith, Sonia (2006-09-11). "Monuments in the making Across the nation, tributes big, small are under way". The Dallas Morning News. 
  23. ^ Memorial website, construction updates
  24. ^ Ground broken for Flight 93 memorial in Pa.
  25. ^ In Shanksville, Thousands Gather to Honor Flight 93 Victims
  26. ^ "September 11, 2011 Weekend". National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/flni/planyourvisit/september-11-2011-weekend.htm. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  27. ^ "MSNBC Live Broadcast of the ceremony and reported news". MSNBC News. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44466410/ns/us_news-9_11_ten_years_later/. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 

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