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Foundation ends $40M capital campaign for Flight 93 memorial

| Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 1:36 p.m.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join the Families of Flight 93 and National Memorial Park officials in Somerset County on Tuesday to break ground on the visitor center complex.

Plans include a 6,800-square-foot visitor center that will tell the story of Flight 93, as well as a learning center, parking and related features. The visitor center is expected to open in September 2015.

Jewell will participate on Wednesday in the 12th observance of the 9/11 attacks, when 33 passengers and the seven crew members aboard United Flight 93 thwarted four terrorists and crashed the plane in a field near Shanksville.

At 10:03 a.m. Wednesday — the moment Flight 93 crashed — the names of the passengers and crew members will be read, and Bells of Remembrance will be rung in their memory. The ceremony will include a wreath-laying at the Wall of Names.

Jewells' visit was announced hours after the National Park Foundation said the $40 million capital campaign for the memorial near Shanksville is complete.

The campaign was formed to establish and to assist in the design and building of the national memorial to honor the passengers and crew who fought back against the hijackers and prevented a second aerial attack on Washington.

“Like all of America's National Parks, the Flight 93 National Memorial honors and preserves our country's rich history,” said Neil Mulholland, president and chief executive officer of the National Park Foundation.

“As the charitable partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation has been proud to lead the private fundraising efforts to establish and build the memorial, ensuring its place in American history,” he said.

The foundation raised $40 million in private support from more than 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations. The donations have funded the construction of the park's Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names and 40 Memorial Groves, along with major reforestation of the landscape.

The total cost of the permanent memorial is $60 million. Pennsylvania and Congress appropriated the remainder of the funding, according to the National Park Service.

“We certainly have had a successful partnership with the foundation that has worked hard to accomplish a lot,” said Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93. His brother, Edward Felt, 41, died aboard the plane.

“What's really made me proud is that $40 million of this memorial wasn't put on taxpayers. We knew going in that it needed to be a grassroots-funded memorial ... funded by all areas of the community, whether it be local, state and federal governments, as well as through private donations from the community, corporations and private foundations,” Felt said.

“Everybody really came together for this,” he said.

The Flight 93 memorial was the last to be fully funded.

The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Va., were fully funded in 2008.

“We knew going in one of our challenges was we were in rural Pennsylvania and were at a real disadvantage as far as fundraising,” Felt said.

“Look at New York — a huge metropolis, plus home to all of the worldwide funding institutions, many of whom lost many valuable workers in the attacks, and already home to all of that in-place fundraising expertise. Washington ... is another metropolitan area, and it has the whole structure of the military behind it,” he said.

“I do not want to slight anyone, but we are in the middle of God's country, and it posed an entirely different challenge for us than the other two memorials,” Felt said.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, “The generous contributions of so many individuals and businesses from around the world, along with the hard work and coordination of our friends at the National Park Foundation, ensure the long-term success of Flight 93 National Memorial.”

Felt and Jarvis said more funds are needed to complete the memorial.

The National Park Foundation has helped to establish a local philanthropic organization, the Friends of the Flight 93 National Memorial, which will continue to fundraise. The group helps to provide support for operations and programming at the memorial.

“We're not quite all there for all funding yet, although the National Park Foundation did the commitment for $40 million,” Felt said.

He noted that funding needs include work on another return road at the rural site, educational programs and possibly for the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tall tower with 40 wind chimes, one for each victim.

“The friends' organization is going to take over that activity to help continue raising funds where needed,” Felt said.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or

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