SHANKSVILLE (KDKA/AP) – National Park Service officials say a $26 million visitor center complex at the Flight 93 National Memorial will open to the public Sept. 10, a day before the 14th anniversary of the terror attacks.
The Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County was once an abandoned strip mine, but now it’s hallowed ground consecrated by the heroic acts of every day Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.
Today, a new memorial continues to grow from the 2,200 acres moving toward its Sept. 10 dedication later this year.
U.S. Park Service Regional Director Stephen Clark says the site is an awesome sight to behold, and the credit goes to the designer.
“It’s a magnificent site. Paul Mudoch, the architect, is absolutely brilliant in his design,” Clark said.
The media got a look at the nearly complete memorial on Thursday. Everything about it leads to the impact point of United 93. The striking walled flight path is a stunning feature for future visitors.
Flight 93 Memorial DEP Superintendent Keith Newlin says it will be a walk featuring the sadness and the valor that made that sad September day so memorable.
“They’re going to walk down the flight path to the overlook that gives them the entire view of everything essentially at the core of the park – the impact site, the field of honor, the bowl that was here at the time of the crash, the wetlands,” said Newlin.
It is the resting place of everyday people who showed uncommon valor.
“Even from the moment of impact, when the Shanksville community, Somerset County didn’t even know exactly what had occurred. Was it a small aircraft? What was it? And very quickly the emergency responders learned of the true catastrophe that had occurred here,” said Clark.
According to the Park Service, for a long time Flight 93’s impact point has been a place to visit on the way to other places like Gettysburg and Washington DC; however, come September, memorial officials say that will be no more.
“They knew it was here, but they truly didn’t understand what went on there, especially over the skies of Western Pennsylvania,” said Clark.
The Park Service say on the average there are 300,000 visits the crash site every year. But with the memorial complete, it’s expected that number will only climb.
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