Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flight 93 Memorial

I'm in Pennsylvania this week. I start Tom Jones' course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh on Sunday and I arrived a few days early to see my Aunt and to visit Gettysburg. My great-great-grandfather, Zophar Skinner, fought at Gettysburg with the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, and his brother, Joseph, was wounded in a skirmish 10 days later while pursuing the enemy back into Maryland. I hope to visit the part of the battlefield where the 2nd RI fought, and to trace their steps south after the Union Army won the battle at Gettysburg.

However, I flew into Pittsburgh last night and while driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike today, I noticed the sign for the Flight 93 Memorial. I found it was about 18 miles north, and that I could continue from there on a 'back-road' to Gettysburg. Thus, I decided to visit the site of the crash of flight 93 on 11 September 2001.

Only part of the memorial is built so far. There are plans for a Visitor's Center,  but work there has not yet begun. A lot of tree planting has taken place in the last few months. A ranger told me that each of the 40 passengers would be memorialized in a grove of 40 trees for a total of 1600 trees in the groves. The crash itself was on a field just on the edge of a grove of mostly hemlock trees. Extending out from there are mostly barren fields, resulting from strip mining that occurred up until around 1995 (from what the park ranger said). In the far distance are giant wind turbines which were oddly beautiful as the blades rotated very slowly in the almost non-existent breeze.

There is a walkway out to the crash site, and a wall with the crew and passenger names engraved on it. The walkway itself defines the edge of what was the official "crash-site", and there is a large boulder placed where the cockpit hit the ground nose first at a speed of almost 600 miles/hour. Apparently the flight recorder was found at a depth of 25 feet, and crash debris extended 40 feet into the ground. I hadn't known that they had found enough remains of all 40 passengers to identify each of them.


Flight 93 Memorial Wall

It was a sunny day today at the memorial site, much like the day in Seattle (where I live) of the 9-11 attacks so far away. I will never forget the blue sky that Seattle day and the eerie knowledge that there were no airplanes in the sky with the exception of the military jets. There is something about the blueness of that sky, and the silence that will stay with me forever.
All in all, it was a moving experience to see the crash site and re-experience some of the emotions I felt that day almost 11 years ago.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting about your moving experience to this memorial.

    I also wanted to let you know your blog was listed on my Fab Finds list for today, July 20, 2012 at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2012/07/follow-fridayfab-finds-for-july-20-2012.html

    Have a great day!

    Jana

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    1. Jana -

      Thanks! It was a moving experience for me. And thanks for mentioning this post on your Fab Finds post. It's an honor!

      Wendy

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  2. Wendy,

    Thank you for sharing. I had a similar experience.

    http://worthy2be.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/inferential-genealogy-study-group-in-2nd-life-update/

    Gettysburg and the Flight 93 Memorial.

    Russ

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    1. Thanks Russ -
      I just went and read your post too. It must have been an extraordinary experience to be there on the 10th anniversary. There were certainly alot more people there on that day than on the random summer day I visited. I was pleased to see though that there were people there last week - that the site is visited by those who remember,

      Delete

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