Park Service working on Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania

SOMERSET, Pa.-Barely five months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the National Park Service is working with local officials to establish a memorial at the southwestern Pennsylvania site where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

"We had people almost immediately after the crash recognizing that this was not some ordinary event, and that some kind of monument or memorial ought to be placed on the site," said Brad Clemenson, a spokesman for Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who represents the nearby area. "We told people it was premature-it was still a crime scene then-but we took their names and ideas, and we have continued to work with everyone."

Officials from Somerset County, the borough of Shanksville, Pa., and Stonycreek Township, Pa., have taken the lead in preserving the site and establishing a task force to design a memorial for the 40 passengers and crew who died there. Soon after the crash, officials from these jurisdictions asked for and got assistance from the National Park Service.

Murtha is working with the Park Service to craft legislation that would initiate the process for establishing a national memorial at the site. Typically, Congress asks the Park Service to consider whether a site is worthy of national memorial status, at which point the agency conducts a detailed study before recommending what form of designation is appropriate. Alternately, the president can invoke the 1906 Antiquities Act to establish new Park Service sites unilaterally.

Already, private donations that could ultimately be used to build a memorial are pouring in. At least two funds have been established to keep those monies in escrow until design plans have materialized.

The efforts to preserve the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks are part of a trend toward ever-more rapid memorialization. In decades past, Congress and the Park Service would typically wait decades before establishing historical monuments or memorials. But beginning with the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington and accelerating with the Oklahoma City memorial to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, the American way of commemorating history has changed dramatically. The memorial to the Oklahoma City victims was dedicated five years after the bombing.

"Americans are demanding memorials sooner, partly as a way to help themselves get through the ordeal," said Linda Neal, the Park Service's project director for the national parks located in New York Harbor. "It's become much more interactive. People no longer just lay a wreath or flower at a tomb for an unknown soldier of World War I. They leave personal notes, teddy bears and all sorts of artifacts."

Officials say that the memorialization effort in southwestern Pennsylvania has advanced more rapidly than efforts to create memorials at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan or at the Pentagon. One major reason is that in Pennsylvania, only about a half-dozen landowners stand to be affected by the construction of a memorial, and the biggest of those owners-a coal company-has already indicated a willingness to cooperate.

Moreover, the assessment and cleanup of the Pennsylvania site has been far less complicated than at either of the other two crash sites.

In New York City, "there's so much going on I don't even know where to start," Neal said. "There are scores of organizations and coalitions cropping up, and they're all grappling with what should be the process for planning a memorial and redevelopment of lower Manhattan. Sometimes these groups intermingle, sometimes they stay pretty segregated. It depends on who's coordinating the meetings.

"In New York, the Park Service has not been asked to do anything officially. I've simply been attending as many of the committee meetings as I can, but if you go to one, you may be missing five others held the same night."

In Pennsylvania, by contrast, local officials tapped the Park Service's institutional knowledge from the beginning.

"In October, we helped the county develop procedures for collecting artifacts," said Joanne Hanley, the superintendent of four Park Service sites in southwestern Pennsylvania. To do this, the Park Service brought in Pamela West, a Washington-based Park Service employee who has helped gather artifacts at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The Park Service also helped organize a December town meeting near the crash site. The purpose of the meeting, Hanley said, was to discuss "not the memorial itself, but a process for establishing one, because frankly the process is just as important as the memorial itself. It needs to be inclusive and have many voices. It should be slow and deliberate. And the process itself can serve a very important purpose in healing and grieving." To drive home this point, the Park Service invited several panelists with experience working with Oklahoma City's much-praised memorial task force to speak at the meeting.

"The Park Service is playing a very supportive role, but only when asked by the county commissioners," Hanley said. "The worst thing that could happen is for the government to come in and tell the local people what to do. It has to be bottom-up and inclusive. In Oklahoma City, the task force included 300 people, and every decision was unanimous."

Because the efforts to memorialize the three Sept. 11 sites are not being coordinated, the quick progress in Pennsylvania means that the sites could open at different times and offer varied narrative content. While cooperation further down the road is considered likely, some observers also worry that memorializing the sites too quickly could make it hard to put the events of Sept. 11 into their proper historical context.

"Sometimes it's difficult to know what that larger story will be," Neal said, adding that the war on terrorism launched after Sept. 11 is far from over.

Hanley takes some comfort in noting that the Park Service is quite used to dealing with the needs of memorialization. In her region alone, Hanley oversees Fort Necessity National Battlefield, where the first battle of the French and Indian War was fought, and the Johnstown Flood National Memorial, marking a tragedy that killed 2,209 people on May 31, 1889. That was the largest one-day loss of civilian life in the United States-until Sept. 11, 2001.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.