Friday, June 21, 2013
Flight 93 National Memorial
Flight 93 National Memorial is the nation's permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93. It's their final resting place and their remains are still present. The crash site is bordered by the Memorial Plaza.
We headed out early Thursday morning, taking I70 West out of Baltimore to the Memorial, nestled in the Laurel Highlands farmland, near Stoystown, PA. This was my second visit. The first time my husband and I had visited it had been in February, and it had snowed the day before -- breathtaking. We sat at the entrance until 0910 (despite its official open time of 0900), and were the only ones there at the time. It was touching, and I decided then that my sons needed to see this. They'd already been to Ground Zero, with their father, and they've been to the Pentagon Memorial (more on that in a future post).
On the drive out, we discussed 9/11 and our memories of that day. My younger son was born a few months later -- making the memorial even more poignant. We started talking about Flight 93 itself and the events as we recalled them about what happened that morning. Someone mentioned the theory that the plane had been shot down, rather than taken down by the passengers. We didn't reach a conclusion about the "conspiracy theory" -- it would make sense if that plane had been shot down, although I personally prefer the version of events generally accepted as true, that the passengers had fought back against the terrorists and taken their fates into their own hands -- but ultimately, the four of us decided it didn't matter. The passengers and flight crew on that plane are modern American heroes, whichever is the truth.
The Memorial is touching and despite how lovely the day was, felt solemn. A cell phone tour guided us through the history panels. As we walked along the memorial plaza out to the Wall of Names, we passed little shelves, filled with tributes others have offered in tribute to the crash victims. My youngest son was so moved as to seek an item he could leave -- and settled on a quarter, because on its face is George Washington, seeking solace in the symbolism of the Nation's Founding Fathers. We continued walking past the boulder set out in the meadow, marking the spot of the main impact.
The Wall of Names lists a name of one of the passengers or flight crew on each white marble panel. We walked slowly past each panel, reading the name on each one. I stumbled upon reaching Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas' name, as it also listed "and unborn child." I imagined her last moments. Did she hold her hands on her belly, perhaps feeling her unborn baby move within, wishing for a different future? Did she curse fate? Did she cry in fear? Could she accept her fate and take comfort in knowing she would be known as a modern American hero?
We walked back in silence.
Getting there: If you're looking for it on GPS, it's located at 6434 Lincoln Highway, Stoystown, PA. Note-- our GPS dropped us off about a half mile away from there, so keep your eyes open for the entrance.
If you're coming from Baltimore region, and have a lot of time to mosey along, then take the first federally funded highway -- US 40 -- out through western Maryland. Actually -- pick up 40 just north of Frederick, as 40 and 70 are the same road until about then anyway. In spring, summer and early fall it's a scenic drive, but more on that in some future post.
Getting there: 6424 Lincoln Highway, Stoystown, PA 15563; Many GPS units may recommend a different route, sometimes taking you to a closed entrance from the early days of the temporary memorial. There is only one entrance, and it is located on US Route 30 (Lincoln Highway). Enter the actual GPS address noted above. Searching for the location by site name will not get you to the correct entrance.
Hours: April - October 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; November - March 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dogs: Leave your dogs at home for this one!
Eats: This is in a fairly rural location. If you're heading there near meal time, plan a picnic, or prepare to wait until you get back on the main highway and reach a nearby big town.
Updated September 2018.