On a rainy Friday morning, more than 500 volunteers from all over the United States gathered at the Flight 93 National Memorial to get their hands dirty and plant seedlings during a volunteer event, Plant a Tree at Flight 93. Four team members from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau were among the crowd, eager to hike through the mud and fog into the woods to plant life where others selflessly gave theirs.
Led by the National Park Service, the Friends of Flight 93, and the National Park Foundation, the reforestation effort brought together these volunteers to plant 15,000 tree seedlings over 23 acres of land surrounding the Flight 93 National Memorial. By planting seedling varieties such as Eastern hemlock, American chestnut, sugar maple, dogwood, black walnut and red maple, reforestation will help restore wildlife habitats in an area that was once a surface coal mine.
We must never forget the heroic efforts of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. These brave men and women demonstrated unity, courage and defiance in the face of adversity. Our team is honored to have participated in the annual Plant a Tree at Flight 93 event. It was an emotional day for us as we remembered the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and worked to help create a living memorial. We bonded as a team and with our fellow participants.
As we drove away from our plot of muck and mud, it hit me… In a matter of years, the small seedlings we planted today will be towering beautiful reminders of our appreciation for the brave men and women of Flight 93.
I would like to thank my fellow members of Team Laurel Highlands for their passion, pride and dedication. It was hard work, but rewarding work and I’m thankful to have spent this day with you.
Finally, thank you to the men and women of Flight 93, the family members of the heroes, the Flight 93 National Memorial team, the Friends of Flight 93 and the National Park Service for allowing our team the privilege of participating in this event. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.