Flight 93 memorial will teach story of 9/11
By Mary Pickels
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012
One year after the formal dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial, which occupies a quiet field in Somerset County, there has been a quiet shift in the focus of the ongoing construction — and direction — of the site.
The memorial honors the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93, who battled terrorists aboard the hijacked plane on Sept. 11, 2001, and are credited with thwarting an attack on the nation's capital.
New buildings, expected to open by 2014 at the memorial site, will be used to teach the story of Flight 93 and 9/11.
“Yes, it's a sacred burial ground,” said Lori Guadagno, sister of Flight 93 passenger Richard Guadagno.
“It is also something that needs to be shared with the rest of the country, and I think it needs to be a source for education and for learning.”
A new visitors center and a new education center will be used for teleconferences, panel discussions and displays of memorabilia left at the temporary memorial.
“They will give you a little richer perspective on Flight 93's story,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the National Park Service for Western Pennsylvania.
Reinbold said staffers and volunteers want to better reach the many children who visit the memorial as students or with their families.
“What does a child think when they visit a place like this?” he said Saturday.
For 11-year-old Owen Stoner of Mercersburg, making his first visit to the memorial site, his thoughts centered on sacrifice and gratitude.
“I learned about the people on the plane, and what they went through. I learned how it crashed. ... They didn't hesitate. They just started thinking of how to stop (the plane) from crashing or stop the (terrorists). If I could talk to them, I would probably thank them,” he said.
As part of educational programming in advance of the formal memorial observation on Tuesday, the National Park Service conducted panel discussions on Saturday, with more scheduled on Sunday, on the ground that will be broken next spring for the visitors center. The ground-breaking for the learning center hasn't been set because fundraisers are $5 million shy of a $60 million goal to build it and a Tower of Voices, which would be signature elements in the memorial.
One panel discussion Saturday — “9/11 and the Next Generation” — focused on how children experienced 9/11 and how art allowed them to express their feelings.
Guadagno, co-founder of “Art with a Heart in Healthcare,” a program for hospitalized children, said she was not sure she could continue with her work after her brother was killed.
“My father told me to take the opportunity to make a difference. I truly believed art could be an incredible healing component,” Guadagno said.
Joy Knepp, an art teacher with the Shanksville-Stonycreek School District, recalled how the school building shook on 9/11. As the community became aware that a plane had crashed nearby, and parents began picking up their children, Knepp engaged those remaining in art projects.
Through a donation from Cornell Co., all 500 Shanksville students worked with Lawrenceville artist Jan Loney on an art sculpture that features their handprints and those from faculty and staff.
“This year's graduating class was in the first grade (in 2001). From here on out, I don't think children are going to remember much about it,” Knepp said.
Dr. Mary Margaret Kerr, a University of Pittsburgh professor of child psychiatry, used pictures that children left at the memorial or sent to first-responders to show how youngsters sometimes express their emotions through art.
Throughout Saturday, visitors left messages on a shelter bulletin board; placed flowers along the Wall of Names, where each passenger and crew member is listed; and paused to take in a performance by the Flight 93 Memorial Chorus.
They listened to park rangers relate the actions of passengers and crew that day.
“This is their final resting place. They've never really left,” park Ranger Brendan Wilson said.
“By each of you coming here today, you are affirming that this is an important story — a story worth remembering, a story for generations to come,” Wilson said.
Paul and Lou Dzieciol of Mercersburg in Franklin County brought their young son and two nephews to the memorial before heading to PNC Park for a Pirates game.
“They definitely knew the story. When you are here, it seems a little more ... well, it grabs you,” Paul Dzieciol said.
“I learned how big the plane was. I was amazed at how fast it was going (563 miles per hour) when it hit the ground,” said Paul Dzieciol, 10.
“It's cool how they found all of the stuff (identification badges and other items belonging to passengers recovered at the site) and how people come and give them (donations),” he said.
Caden Stoner, 9, was impressed to learn that a flight attendant was boiling water to use as a possible weapon.
“They were brave, the way they decided to fight (the terrorists),” said Caden.
Visitors and learning centers are good ideas, he said
“People can come here and find out what happened,” he said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or email@example.com.There are currently no comments for this story.
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