PITTSBURGH – The Flight 93 National Memorial plans to honour victims of the Sept. 11 attacks with a bell-ringing ceremony at the time when United Flight 93 crashed in a western Pennsylvania field, killing 40 passengers and crew.
The National Park Service says that at 10:03 a.m. Wednesday the names of all 33 passengers and seven crew members who died in the crash will be read, and bells will be rung in their memory during a 40-minute ceremony.
From noon to 5 p.m., park rangers and volunteers will give presentations about Flight 93 and the creation of the memorial park, which is located in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. At 4 p.m. rangers will present a program titled Flight 93’s Final Minutes: The Flight Data Recorder Story.
A groundbreaking for a 6,800-square-foot visitor centre was held Tuesday. The building will be broken in two at the point of the plane’s flight path overhead. It is expected to open in late 2015.
The first features of the memorial in Shanksville were completed and dedicated in Sept. 2011, including new roads and a Memorial Plaza near the crash site. Forty memorial groves of trees have also been planted, and large sections of the park have been replanted or reforested.
Flight 93 was travelling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.
As passenger Todd Beamer issued the rallying cry “Let’s roll,” he and several fellow passengers rushed down the airliner’s narrow aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers after learning of the co-ordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The 9-11 Commission concluded that the hijackers downed the plane – the only one of four hijacked that day that did not take a life on the ground – as the hostages revolted.
The tale of the courageous actions of everyday people aboard Flight 93 helped provide a measure of optimism for the American public in the dark days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks. It also inspired a 2006 docudrama, “United 93,” the first big-screen dramatization about the terrorist attacks that used a cast of unknown actors and played out roughly in real time from the passenger check-in to the crash.
Visitors to the park have left more than 35,000 tributes at the site, and they have been collected as part of an archival collection.