Flight 93 Memorial Site Manager: Visitors Become Part Of It

5:11 PM, Sep 6, 2011   |    comments
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Shanksville, PA -- Each year since September 11, 2001, about 150,000 people have made their piligrimage to rural Pennsylvania.

They pay their respects and remember 40 heroes on board that flight. The passengers and crew who died when Flight 93 crashed just outside of Shanksville.

Flight 93 was taken over by terrorist, but crew members bravely fought back to prevent the plane from flying into a building in our nation's capitol.

It's taken nearly a decade to raise the money needed for the first phase of the permenant Flight 93 Memorial and it's taken almost two years to construct the first phase of the project.

The memorial will open to the public on Saturday, but News 2's Lauren Melvin got a sneak peek of what visitors will see.

"When you look out over the fields, what you see is nature. It's very simple," said Jeff Reinbold, the site manager of the Flight 93 National Memorial.

"It's wildflowers. It's a field. It's hillsides. It's the sky above you. What this doesn't reveal immediately is this is where the plane crashed," said Reinbold.

Reinbold said the architect chose not to compete with the natural serenity of the site and instead, to embrace it. This was the architect's way of showing that life has returned to the land that was a horrific crash site ten years ago.

Reinbold also said that the scene in the the field was not only a backdrop for the memorial, but it was an important part of the story.

"He (the architect) didn't try to represent the 40 passengers and crew in any literal way here. He basically framed circle around the crash site, and then left their final resting place open," Reinbold said.

The names of the passengers and crew are prominently displayed at the crash site on the "Wall of Names," a white marble wall, that's in line with the flight path.

When Flight 93 crashed, it created a fireball that blew into a nearby Hemlock grove. Reinbold said for that reason, the architect also featured Hemlock throughout the site.

"You'll notice this concrete actually has its stamped pattern in it, so that it looks like hemlock. And what appears to be random markings on the concrete and in the walls actually mimmicks the branching pattern of a hemlock tree," Reinbold said.

Reinbold said the whole memorial design is specific to the crash in rural Pennsylvania.

"This site is unlike New York or the Pentagon. If you were to take the design out of here and move it to those locations, it wouldn't work," he said.

"When you come to this memorial, it is not a place that you view, it's a place you inhabit. You are part of it. It's a chance to have time with your thoughts and be able to pay your respects," Reinbold said.

The National Park Foundation still needs about $10 million from private donors to build the Visitors' Center and other components of the next phase of the memorial. If you'd like to learn more about donating to the project click here.

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