FLIGHT 93 MEMORIAL VACATION

While on vacation, my wife and I were traveling south on Pennsylvania State Route 160, on our way from Johnstown to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We were in the general vicinity of the Flight 93 National Memorial so we decided to stop by. We were enjoying the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside when we saw off in the distance two giant cranes, sitting idle in the noonday sun. The countryside consisted of rolling hills and re-claimed strip mines. The cranes that were used to support draglines for strip mining, had been idle since the middle 60s and the land looked none the worse for the coal it had given up.

Flight 93 was the ill-fated passenger liner that had been taken over by terrorists on the fateful date of 9-11. The land seemed so peaceful and deserted; a few wisps of clouds streaked an otherwise beautiful blue sky. And then, as we came over a rise we saw a gathering of sorts. People had come on motorcycles, three-wheelers, quad-runners, cars, campers and just about every other type of vehicle. They had come by ones or two’s or entire families and they were just milling around. There wasn’t the usual hum of a crowd, only the hushed whispers that you might hear at a funeral.

As we approached the guardrail that surrounded a small shack we began to see the graffiti. It wasn’t the type of graffiti you see on the walls of public buildings it was patriotic graffiti. “Roll On To Heaven,” “God Bless America,” “Forever American.” The guardrail led to an eight-foot section of chain link fence and the fence was covered with relics that had been donated by passer’s by. A leather vest, a baseball cap, a sweat stained bandana, a shoe…people had simply taken off something that meant something to them and hung it on the fence. Off in the distance, about a hundred yards away, was ground zero marked by a large American flag where Flight 93 had augered into the Pennsylvania soil.

By now everyone had heard the story of how passenger plane 93, boarded with regular American civilians, had been taken over by a trained group of militant combatants. The terrorists had occupied the pilot’s cabin and it is suspected that they were planning on flying the plane into the White House. Some of the civilians had called back to relatives on the ground and figured out what these terrorists were planning to do. They put together a hastily formed alliance and they resolved to not let the terrorist carryout their plan.

Resolve is such a simple thing. You may resolve to stop smoking, or to get out of an abusive relationship, or just to lose a few pounds but these people resolved to say, “No, we will not let this happen, not while we’re able.”

What makes the memorial so different is that it is put together from odds and ends from regular Americans, for other regular Americans. People like your neighbor across the street or the guy that sits in your office at work. It gave me the same feeling I remembered as the funeral procession of Jonathan Blair traveled down Lower Huntington Road…People walked out from their businesses, and stood along the road and waited in silence as an American hero rolled by. Elmhurst High School shut down and students lined the road. Hansen Aggregates flew an American flag off of one of their cranes. Dump trucks, and graders and earth moving equipment sat silenced along Ardmore Avenue, as the workers paid their last respects to one of their own, just a regular American. There was no political axe to grind, no spin, nothing but reverence.

It was the same there at the people’s memorial for Flight 93, just silence and respect.

The planned formal memorial has not yet been built, and it was refreshing to see the makeshift memorial that presently commemorates the sacrifice of those regular American heroes.

The Waynedale News Staff
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