SHANKSVILLE (KDKA) — With a horrific explosion and an earth-shaking rumble, the future of Shanksville and Stoney Creek Township was sealed.
“We’re a part of history now,” says Rick King who owns Ida’s Store and is a member of the volunteer fire department.
From day one, those whose roots are entwined in the soil that became Flight 93’s final resting place embraced the roles of host and protector.
“It was just something in my heart that I felt I needed to do,” said Flight 93 Ambassador Rose Sprock in an interview with KDKA-TV on the first anniversary of the attacks.
Nine years later, the Flight 93 Ambassadors – all local and all volunteers – continue to shepherd the flocks of visitors who arrive every day, regardless of the weather.
They tell the story of the Flight 93 heroes and the plane’s final moments.
Throughout the past 10 years, the people of Shanksville, Lambertsville and Stoney Creek Township have done their best to maintain the rural lifestyle they love.
King says, “The town’s the same, we go about our business, raise our children those types of things haven’t changed.”
But the quiet they once enjoyed is a fading memory. Most here thought and even hoped the flow of visitors would taper off with time.
“You mow your yard and you have to turn your mower off 10 times to give directions,” says King.
With the opening of Phase 1 of the permanent memorial on Saturday, there is no sign the flow of visitors will ebb anytime soon. But those visitors will soon be taking a different route to the crash site.
The entrance to the permanent memorial is off Route 30 which should take many tourists off the winding two lane roads of Stoney Creek Township.
Traffic is something virtually every resident cites as the worst impact on their way of life. Val McClatchey is hopeful the new Route 30 entrance will bring relief to the heavy traffic.
“That’s going away so it’s going to be kind of quiet around here and we’ll go back to the serenity we once had,” says McClatchey.
Still, the people of this once quiet area are proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“We went through this as a nation,” says Shanksville School Superintendent Thomas McInroy.
“The recovery was quite gruesome and this community really has done very well for the families of Flight 93 keeping their memory alive.”