Monday, August 1, 2016

Shanksville, Pennsylvania - Flight 93 National Memorial

I wanted to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial. My mother had visited when it first opened so I took her with me so that we could discuss the changes in the site and the opening of the visitor center.  We opted to avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike and took Route 30 and 31 with the scenic views.

To give some perspective on the layout of the Memorial, I've borrowed these maps from the website:
If you find that the snapshots of the maps shown below are too small, click on the link above to see a full screen version.

The arrow shows the flight path. 

The points where I took photos are first from the Visitor Shelter and Wall of Names (bottom part of the circle), and then from the Visitor Center Complex.

The entrance is well marked.
 Rolling acres with wildflowers.  There is a walkway from the main Visitor's Center Complex to the Wall of Names and the Memorial area.  You can also drive.  There are 40 trees planted along the walkway and it should be beautiful when they mature.

I recommend that you take a brief moment to view the video that explains the layout and meaning of the memorial.  Click to view the Informational Video

We arrived a little after the site opened, and I wanted to get photographs without a lot of people so we went directly to the Wall of Names area.  There is a long walkway from the Visitor Shelter to the Wall of Names (see the white line in the distance on the right?).  The field to the left of the walkway is the Debris Field.  After searching this area, it was replanted with local wildflowers and is closed to the public.
 There are niches along the way specifically to provide a place where people can leave tributes.

 We are nearing the Wall of Names. Note that there is a lot of seating along the long walkway.
 The main Visitor Center can be seen on the hilltop.  Also, note that the bench seating tapers. I learned after watching the video that the seats along the way resemble the shape of an airplane wing.
 The flight path was over the hill (use the white Visitor's Complex on the hill top as a guide, along the wall (note that the pavement is a different texture).
The flight path continued through this gated area and ended at the treeline. The boulder marks the final resting place.  This area beyond the gate is open to family members at all times but is not open to the public.
 The wall is made of separate pieces of marble, separated by about 1/4 of an inch.  The names are engraved. The names are dark and equally visible for passengers and crew.  Crew positions are engraved and are white on white.  One woman has "and unborn child" next to her name.  It still brings tears to my eyes.

 Looking from the wall towards the sandstone boulder.
 It was time to leave the Wall of Names and go to the Visitor's Complex (on the hill top).
 This looks across the wildflowers and the Debris Field to the boulder.
 At the Visitor's Shelter in the Wall area.
 Local wildflowers.
 A gathering spot.
 Queen Anne's Lace.  Grows wild in Pennsylvania, is added to bouquets in Phoenix!
 This is a view from the main Visitor's Center Complex looking at the Wall of Names.

 The entrance to the Visitor's Center Complex.  It is well done and filled with information.  It certainly encourages a moment to reflect.
My mother said that there was a large engraved stone, presented by Rolling Thunder.    We couldn't find it and asked the management. There are a lot of memorability that are in storage while the design and construction for the rest of the Memorial is finished.  We need to return to see  how this progresses.

For more information visit the National Park webpage:
By the way, there is no charge to enter the area.

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