Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?
It’s a question people often ask each other, much like previous generations often ask, “Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot?” Maybe you were at work in an office somewhere when you first heard that not one but two planes had hit the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City. Maybe you were at home, glued to your television watching events as they unfolded on live morning news. Maybe you were a student in a classroom trying to understand why a group of men would want to attack the U.S. and kill Americans. Or maybe you were going about your normal daily routine on what seemed to be an ordinary day, thinking you were safe in quiet, rural America, when tragedy struck a little too close to home.
No matter where you were 14 years ago, memories of that “ordinary day” – a defining moment in this nation’s history – as well as the swell of patriotism, humanitarianism, and events that followed will be showcased when the Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center opens to the public on Sept. 10.
Featuring permanent exhibits using photographs, artifacts, tactile models, audio recordings and video, the Visitor Center will add an “intellectual” aspect to the already moving memorial experience and will tell the Flight 93 story in context to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Also opening Sept. 10 will be the Learning Center, a multi-purpose space to be used for educational programming, rotating exhibits and special events that will help tell the Flight 93 and 9/11 story to those who may have either been too young to remember the terrorist attacks as well as those who were born after Sept. 11, 2001, including future generations in the years to come. New pedestrian trails, the flight path walkway and overlook will also open to the public on Sept. 10.
In addition to the Visitor Center dedication ceremony, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial will host the annual Luminaria Program on the evening of Sept. 10. Forty candle lanterns will be placed at the Wall of Names to honor the 40 passengers and crew who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93. This year, an additional 2,937 luminaria will be placed on the memorial plaza as a tribute to the total loss of life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
On the morning of Sept. 11, the Flight 93 National Memorial will mark the 14th anniversary of 9/11 during the September 11 Observance. The service will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will include remarks by NBC News correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, President of the Families of Flight 93 Gordon Felt and others. At 10:03 a.m. – the moment Flight 93 crashed – the names of the passengers and crew will be read and Bells of Remembrance will be rung in memory of the passengers and crew.
IF YOU GO: The public is invited and encouraged to attend the Visitor Center Complex Dedication Ceremony, the Luminaria Program and the September 11 Observance. There will be limited seating for both the dedication ceremony and the Sept. 11 program, but guests are permitted to bring their own chairs. Officials with the National Park Service have issued other restrictions and instructions for these events. Visit the Flight 93 National Memorial website for details.
Following the dedication ceremony, the Visitor Center will be open to the public from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 10 and noon to 6 p.m. on Sept. 11. Normal operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily beginning Sept. 12. The memorial is closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
Because of expected heavy visitation and limited space, entry for all visitors will be via a free, timed ticket. On Sept. 10-11, admission to the Visitor Center will be via advanced reservation tickets only. Beginning Sept. 12, tickets will be available by both advance reservation and same-day distribution at the Visitor Center. Learn more about how to obtain your Visitor Center tickets here. Other areas of the memorial – the Wall of Names, Memorial Plaza, pedestrian trails, the flight path walkway and overlook – do not require a ticket, and all events over the anniversary weekend are free.
WALK 93: Two weeks after the Visitor Center dedication and September 11 Observance, the Friends of Flight 93 will host the inaugural Walk 93, a public event to create awareness for the memorial and to raise money for the building of trails and trail maintenance at the memorial.
On this non-competitive, untimed walk, participants will experience the newly opened 2.28-mile Allée Walkway, Wetlands Bridge and Western Overlook Trail as well as have the opportunity to tour the Visitor Center prior to the event.
Time is running out to register for this event. For more information or to register for Walk 93, visit flight93friends.org.