Saturday, May 9, 2009
Flight 93 Memorial - a photo essay
Go here to see 35 photos of the Temporary Memorial to Flight 93 (to be replaced in 2011 by the permanent memorial)
On a whim, I stopped for the night in Somerset, Pennsylvania. I went into a grocery store to buy some food for the night, and a man in front of me mentioned that I was very near the site of the Flight 93 memorial.
So, the next day, I drove out to the Memorial, and took several photos. It was very windy, and the sky was overcast, so some of the photos are darker than I'd like. (Perhaps the fact that I'm not a professional photographer also contributes to the over/under exposure of some of the pics!)
When I first topped the rise and saw the memorial to the left, I was underwhelmed. So small, rather tacky looking, I thought - as my first view was of the "wall" where the gifts that visitors leave are displayed, and I didn't know what that was. It wasn't until I actually got into the memorial site that I saw what everything was.
There's controversy over the new memorial, and indeed just a days ago it was announced that the government has ended up condemning the land they want, and thus acquring it under eminent domain. The landowners are saying the government didn't talk to them at all about proper compensation, so I'm not really sure what's going on.
If you go into the NPS office, they have some drawings of the new memorial - I would've thought they'dve had a mockup of it as well, but perhaps that's in the works. I'm aware there's also some controversy about the fact that it appears to have a crescent shape when seen from the air, but as the NPS lady there explained to me, that's just the tree line, and it is not a crescent but a circle.
In any event, a very moving site. I stayed for about half an hour, and there'd be a car driving up every five minutes or so. Placed on top of some of the stone monuments, or at their base, are mementos that visitors have left - polished stones, medals, all the way up to hats and pieces of clothing. Everything is kept, and when there's too much, the park service takes and stores it to make room for more.
To me, this memorial, and the new memorial, are tributes not only to the heroes of Flight 93 but also to every person of courage in the world, who sacrifices their lives for the lives of others, or simply in the cause of justice.
These are true heroes, and their heroism should never be forgotten. Nor should the heroism of our men and women in the Armed Forces, the police, firefighters, et al.
One hopes that, if one were ever in a similar position, one could act with as much heroism. Real-life heroes - they should be the role models for today's kids....