It is hard to believe that last week marked the 11-year anniversary of 9/11. On the anniversary I posted my memories of the horrific day. I remember feeling safe from all of the terror because everything was happening far away. But those feelings quickly changed when Flight 93 was hijacked and then crashed into a field only one hour from my home.
This weekend I took a trip to Shanksville, Pa to remember those who died on 9/11 especially the 40 heroes from Flight 93. This was not the first time I visited the spot of the crash. I was there just a few months after it happened. In 2001 there was a fence that was covered with items that people left there to remember the innocent victims. I remember being overwhelmed with sadness as I looked at everything that was left in the big empty field.
Today everything looks different but the feelings are the same. Instead of the lone fence there is now a beautiful permanent memorial that is still being worked on. It begins with a long windy road through fields with newly planted trees and flowers until you get to the area with the memorial wall.
There you will find a path that begins with signs that take you through the history of exactly what happened from the moment of take-off to the final moments of the 33 passengers and 7 crew members.
On one of the signs there is a photo of the ball of smoke that was taken by a resident of Shanksville only a mile and a half away from the crash site. In the photo you can see a red barn. From that sign you can look to your right and see the barn in a nearby field. It gives you such a weird feeling because you can almost imagine what it would have been like for the people to live so close and see the plane flying right towards their house and crashing only a mile away from it.
At the memorial there are other signs with quotes from residents who live nearby and many described seeing the plane fly so low that they didn’t think it was going to clear the roofs of buildings. Others said that the noise from the plane was so loud that it actually caused their house windows to shake. After the signs, you continue down another long path and pass the exact crash site that is marked with a big boulder in the field. Only family members of the passengers and crew members are allowed beyond the gate to visit the exact spot where the plane went down.
If you look at the top right corner of the photo above you can see the red barn from the other photo with the smoke from the crash. Directly to the right from where this photo was taken is the spot where the plane crashed. It gives you a sense of how close it was to their home. Also along the way on the path there are parts carved out of the walls where visitors can place small items to remember and honor those who died on 9/11.
At the very end of the path you will find a long wall that has every victim’s name on it. Along the wall there are even more items that were left by family members to remember their lost loved ones.
As I walked along the wall and looked at photos that were left by family members I could sense what they were like. 40 victims died that day and they all had a story. They were all different and from all around the world. But they will always be remembered as heroes.
I really recommend taking a trip to Shanksville, especially if you live nearby. It is a beautiful area in Pennsylvania and a wonderful way to remember and honor all of the victims and heroes from 9/11.
For more information visit the Flight 93 Memorial website.
XOXO — Abbey