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Groundbreaking for final phase of Flight 93 memorial planned

Debra Erdley
| Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, 3:24 p.m.
The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard stands by the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard stands by the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016.
Park Ranger Robert Franz, 61, of Berlin readies the flags for A Service of Remembrance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville for the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. 'I'd be proud to be a park ranger anywhere, but it's an honor to be one here,' Franz said of the site.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Park Ranger Robert Franz, 61, of Berlin readies the flags for A Service of Remembrance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville for the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. 'I'd be proud to be a park ranger anywhere, but it's an honor to be one here,' Franz said of the site.
United airlines flight attendants Christina Nixon hugs Anna Stover as Michelle Lea leans over to place flowers, all based in Washington, D.C., during the 13th anniversary service at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, the crash site of United Flight 93, where 40 passengers and crew lost their lives fighting back against terrorists believing to be targeting the U.S. Capitol.
Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
United airlines flight attendants Christina Nixon hugs Anna Stover as Michelle Lea leans over to place flowers, all based in Washington, D.C., during the 13th anniversary service at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, the crash site of United Flight 93, where 40 passengers and crew lost their lives fighting back against terrorists believing to be targeting the U.S. Capitol.
Nancy Schwartz, 55, of Pleasant Hills, touches all the names along the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Schwartz was considering coming to the memorial for the day, and then when she saw an American flag fall off a car yesterday, she says, she took it as a sign to definitely come to pay tribute and lay the flag at the site.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Nancy Schwartz, 55, of Pleasant Hills, touches all the names along the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Schwartz was considering coming to the memorial for the day, and then when she saw an American flag fall off a car yesterday, she says, she took it as a sign to definitely come to pay tribute and lay the flag at the site.

Nearly 16 years after 40 passengers on a cross-country flight took on a group of terrorist hijackers over Somerset County, officials are preparing to break ground for the final phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial.

National Park Service officials said “soundbreaking” for the Flight 93 National Memorial's Tower of Voices is set for Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the park entrance along Route 30 in Stonycreek Township.

The 93-foot-tall tower containing 40 wind chimes — one for each of the passengers and crew members — will represent the voices of those aboard Sept. 11, 2001, and how they relayed events to loved ones via cellphones. Construction is to be complete in 2018.

Authorities believe four hijackers aboard United Flight 93 were headed for a target in Washington, D.C., when passengers who learned of the three other crashes — two at New York's Twin Towers and a third at the Pentagon — attempted to wrest control of the plane from them.

Moments later, the jet crashed in a Somerset County strip mine at the site of what is now the memorial.

Groundbreaking for the Tower of Voices marks the final phase of a 16-year effort to pay tribute to the heroes.

Officials said the memorial will host a 16th anniversary observance of the crash beginning at 9:45 a.m. Sept. 11. The start time commemorates the time period in which the passengers and crew took action to thwart the terrorists.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune- Review staff writer.

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