On September 11, 2001, four commercial airliners were hijacked in a planned attack against the United States. Two airliners were flown into the World Trade Center Twin Towers and a third aircraft into the Pentagon. A fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into an open field in the Laurel Highlands near the small town of Shanksville, after the passengers and crew stormed the cockpit to derail the plane from its intended target, Washington, D.C.
Established by President George W. Bush in September 2002, the Flight 93 National Memorial is a serene place of remembrance and honor. At Flight 93 National Memorial, you can walk beside the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93's final resting place and honor their courage. Whether your visit serves as a pilgrimage, a patriotic rite of passage or a historical and educational experience, one thing is for certain, the Flight 93 National Memorial is incredibly thought-provoking and emotionally powerful.
There is no admission fee to visit Flight 93 National Memorial.
The Tower of Voices is the first monument that visitors see after entering the memorial off of Route 30, making it the gateway to the park. The impressive structure stands at 93-feet tall and contains 40 chimes to represent the eternal voices of the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93. White pines surround the tower in a concentric pattern, creating an illusion that the trees are soundwaves radiating from the tower. The tower's C-shape and design allows the sound to be amplified from its open side. The wind-activated chimes vary in sizes of 5 to 10 feet and each has a unique pitch that contributes to the collective tune. The tower serves as both a visual and audible reminder of the heroism of the 40 passengers and crew members of United Flight 93. The chimes create tones that convey, through harmony and discord, both the serenity of the site and the tragic event on September 11, 2001.
A black granite walkway paves the path of United Airlines Flight 93 while the two 4-foot concrete walls narrow your focus to what lies ahead. Small profound details are sprinkled throughout this area; The concrete walls' imprint mimics the texture of a hemlock tree, because of the hemlock grove surrounding the crash site, and time stamps of the other three planes of September 11, 2001 are engraved in the walkway. Once you reach the end of the walkway, you can stand at the overlook and view the Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names and crash site.
The Flight 93 National Memorial Visitor Center offers a free self-guided tour, which includes a chronological display of the day’s events with artifacts from the crash, flight paths and information about the flight and its passengers. The Visitor Center can be found behind the tall memorial walls and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
The Learning Center is a multi-purpose gathering space for educational programs and special events. Also, the Western Overlook Trailhead and one of two public restrooms onsite is located at the Learning Center. In front of the building stands a bronze sculpture map, that is usually accompanied by a volunteer or park ranger answering questions and telling the story of Flight 93.
Near the Memorial Plaza stands The Wall of Names, a white marble wall positioned on the flight path with forty panels, engraved with each hero’s name. At the Ceremonial Gate, visitors can look down the flight path to the impact site, marked by a large boulder.
There are two scenic walking trails available for visitors: the 2.4-mile Allée walkway, which takes visitors across the wetlands via the Wetlands Bridge and down to the Memorial Plaza, and the shorter .7-mile Western Overlook Trail that takes you to and from the Wall of Names to the Learning Center.
The Memorial Plaza is a one-mile drive down Ring Road from the Visitor Center Complex. The Memorial Plaza marks the edge of the crash site and includes interpretive panels that provide an overview of the story, as well as a cell phone tour that gives a more in-depth exploration. Cards left at the Visitor Shelter on the Memorial Plaza are saved as a complete archival collection. The Memorial Plaza is a place for quiet reflection and expressions of reflect. On your walk from the Memorial Plaza to the Wall of Names, you will walk along the boundary of the approximate location of impact, which is marked with a 17-ton sandstone boulder.