As President Trump prepares to make an address at the site where United Airlines Flight 93 came down after being hijacked by Islamic terrorists, a stunning memorial reminds us of the heroics shown by the passengers on that fateful day.
The $6 million “Tower of Voices,” was dedicated Sunday, with family and friends of those who lost their lives in attendance to listen to the first “chimes” of the magnificent structure.
The first chimes of the Tower of Voices pic.twitter.com/aWPkfIcaTv
— Chris Lovingood WTAE (@CLovingoodWTAE) September 9, 2018
“Together their voices will ring out into perpetuity, with this beautiful Somerset County, Pennsylvania, wind,” said park Superintendent Stephen Clark, as reported by USA Today.
The aluminum structure contains 40 wind chimes, one for each of the men and women who lost their lives onboard the hijacked flight. After learning of the World Trade Center attack and realizing that their hijackers were on suicide mission, the passengers of Flight 93 decided to act, storming the cockpit and forcing the plane to crash-land just outside Shanksville.
Today marks the 17th anniversary of September 11, 2001. In Pennsylvania, we gather in Shanksville to honor the extraordinary acts of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. Let us #NeverForget the lives we lost, and the heroism that took place in the skies above our commonwealth. pic.twitter.com/KSgRvpgaUP
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) September 11, 2018
Drew Watkins was one the thousands of kids in Northeast Ohio and across the U.S. who collected pennies to fundraise for the construction the Flight 93 memorial, which also contains a museum-like visitors center. The “93 Cents for Flight 93” campaign has a simple mission: to pay “tribute to the 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Flight 93 who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.”
Drew, now 25, recalls visitng the crash site not long after that fateful day. At that point, all that could be seen was a large chainlink fence, temporarily set up to cordon off the area. It was here that people left messages and precious items to honor the brave men and women who helped thwart another devastating attack in the nation’s capital.
“I’m amazed to see what it has grown into, and to think I help build it makes me proud,” Watkins told Cleveland.com. “I was there a few years ago to hear Michelle Obama speak and I was overcome looking at the welcoming center and museum. I wish I could be there to see the Tower of Voices dedicated. I feel like it was worth all the money we collected.”
Today, at 10:03 a.m., which is the exact moment the airliner crashed, the names of the victims will be read out one by one.
Many of the passengers called loved ones as the grave nature of the situation dawned on them. It was through the course of these conversations that the group decided to fight back against the terrorists, understanding that the plane was headed for a target in Washington D.C.
After hatching their plan, and before they launched their final push to overpower the hijackers, passenger Todd Beamer declared those infamous words: “Let’s roll.”
“We wanted to do, I’ll call it a living memorial in sound, because the last memory of many of the people on the plane was through their voices on phone calls,” the architect behind the design, Paul Murdoch, explained to USA Today. “And we wanted to use the natural forces of the site to activate the chimes.”