Friday, September 11, 2020

Photo of the Day: Wall of Names, Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville PA

Last October, while on vacation in Pittsburgh, I journeyed an hour and a half to the east to a rural, wind-swept field that filled me with awe and sadness. 

As a worker on an upper floor in a midtown Manhattan office building, I had watched in horror as the World Trade Center caught fire and collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. But, till this afternoon last fall, I had not come face to face with another event of that day.

The Flight 93 National Memorial, near Shanksville, PA, commemorates one particular mass tragedy and act of heroism that day. Flight 93, bound for California, was one of the four commercial airlines hijacked by terrorists from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations. 

But its 40 passengers and crew, learning what was happening in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground, fought the four hijackers and are believed to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. Their action prevented an attack on the U.S. Capitol and the loss of even more lives.

While visiting the site, I took this photo of the Wall of Names, which is located beneath the flight plan and final approach of the doomed plane. Inscriptions of each of the 40 heroes on board are on 40 individually selected and polished stones. Black granite marks the flight path.

It struck me, just as I started to write this post, that an entire new generation of Americans not born on 9/11 has now come of voting age. Reading about the background surrounding 9/11 is one way they can inform themselves on perhaps the formative event of this current century. 

But a more visceral method of absorbing the significance of this time is to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, as well as Flight 93 Memorial.

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