Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Memory of Trees

On our way back from MD, we went about 17 miles "out of the way" and headed to Shanksville, PA to stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

....the red-headed stepchild of the 9/11 memorials. Unfortunate, but true.

Not in a metropolitan area and woefully underfunded, it doesn't receive the spotlight that the Pentagon or the World Trade Center memorial sites garnish. And that's a shame.

With truly little around it, one has to make the extra effort to visit. This is my third time past the area and finally we carved out the time to drive there. I'm glad we did.

While there is nothing special or glamorous about this memorial, it is simple and serene. The plane went down in a field and that is really all you get - or mostly.

After the investigation identified remains of all on board (not retrieved) and got what they needed from the debris, the impact site was filled in and the field looks like it did before September 11th.

Yes, there is some information and a "wall", but currently that is all that exists.

As you walk to the panel walls, you go down a path of black stone. I asked a park ranger, why some black panels had diagonal lines (see lower left portion of above photo) through them. It was told to me that they represented the branches of hickory trees. And a gate we would soon see was made out wood of a hickory tree. 

The black walkway ends into 40 white marble panels - one for each passenger and crew member.  The direction of the wall follows the flight path of Flight 93. The wall ends at the hickory gate.

I"m not a fan of the gate as it is. You can only see through slats, which means four or so people can be at the gate at one time and others back-up behind you and on a crowded day you'd struggle to get out for others to get in.  You also get a very limited view. It is not an optimal design.

The boulder you see though the gate in the image through the slats and in the one above of me standing on a bench, is the actual impact site. Save the boulder, the field has returned to what it once was.

As this is a gay-ish blog, and for the fact that I knew none of the names other than Todd Beamer ("let's roll"), I took a picture of Mark Bingham's panel.  While he wasn't the only passenger not to have a token placed at his panel, I thought someone should remember him - and I'm doing so here. 

But lest you think that all is sacred at or near this memorial - think again. As you approach the entrance, you get to pass by this...........

Always fun to tie 9/11 to abortion. Jesus and the 3-D plane coming out of the billboard is a nice touch. I don't think Fred Phelps has anything to do with this, mostly because he can't afford it, but it's still odd at best. 

One or two other cars pulled over to see it and take a pic.  710 said, "what are the chances anyone is taking the pic with a sense of irony?"   My guess?  0.  Besides me. 

Song by: Enya


Cubby said...

Thanks for blogging about this. I'm actually shocked by the large number of people milling about.

x said...

Great post. I am scheduled to run in a memorial race out there next September and have never been.

don said...

That sign just taints the whole experience for me. It would be viewed as hate speech in other countries. Good thing that God only blesses America.

Bo said...

Ummm. That crazy abortion sign needs to accidentally burn down.

cb said...

Just seeing Mark's name had made me start bawling.

Anonymous said...

Great review. You were not the only one who stopped to take a picture of the Jesus billboard. I worked at the memorial the summer leading to the 10 year anniversary. I saw it every morning on the way to work. The locals are pretty indifferent about it. You may have passed right by Shanksville itself. Near their local fire station they allow our flag to be draped across a crucifix like a scarf. It grossed me out every time I saw it. These backwater idiots pretend to be patriotic, but they are some of the most indifferent, classless humans in America. They definitely hated me for not being like them. I'm all for honoring the passengers and crew of FLNI. They were America's first response to the war on terror. But the people there are just taking advantage of sentiment in order to push their agenda.