Monday, September 12, 2011

Flight 93 10th Anniversary Memorial Trip

This past Friday on Sept. 10th, we went to the Flight 93 National Memorial dedication. We were supposed to take part in a bike ride down to Shanksville and to the memorial on Sept. 11th, but when we found out they were doing the dedication and unveiling of the memorial wall and that George and Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and the group that are raising the money to build this memorial were going to speak we decided to leave a day early and went on our own. I'm glad we did.
Field opposite the crash site
So under some very dark skies we packed the bike, put on our rain suits and rode the 2 1/2 hours south to Shanksville. We got pretty wet a couple of times on the way down--which I can tell you on a bike doesn't feel all too great--but it was well worth the ride and I'm glad we went.
We got to the memorial at 9:30 am. We didn't get parked and in the park until noon. Traffic was that heavy. It's a very long, winding road that leads to the memorial itself--all through pastureland. We ended up parking about a mile or so away from the site because we got tired of the stopping and going--not to mention the above picture is what the parking area looked like. No way were we getting a bike in that mess.

Of course the line was long and security was pretty tight. The one thing I did disagree with was that they made people take the flags off the poles and toss away the poles. I didn't think that was right. True, the poles were pointy but we were going to honor the people who gave their lives for this country and I just thought that was wrong. Oh--and those are S.W.A.T. guys fully armed on top of the security roof.
This is what you see after you walk into the site. On the left, a black wall they have built to keep people away from the crash site. Far away to the right is where they had the dedication ceremony. We were all sitting in the open--the big white tent is Red Cross and the smaller tent is the pavilion where the speakers sat.
There was a lot of media. See all the trucks? Check out the guy on the left's jacket. We're still in Steelers country and two things we love are our Steelers and our country. There was a woman walking around with a Ravens bag. Wonder if she made it out unscathed.
 We were sitting pretty far away so it was hard to get a good picture of the dignitaries. Maybe you can pick out George and Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden. Also the men who are raising money and started this memorial spoke (one of them wearing a cowboy hat). They all gave wonderful speeches and all called the passengers "heroes". As a matter of fact, the word "passenger" wasn't spoken as much as the word "hero".  Biden and Clinton gave credit to George Bush for pulling this country together when this happened and taking action. Biden even got a bit emotional towards the end of his speech because he recognized that these heroes saved his life--literally. If that plane had crashed into the Capitol building where he was, he and countless others would've lost their lives.
Rude People

One thing that did bother me was the fact that there were some rude people there. These people would NOT sit down through most of the ceremony (which was about three hours long) even tho they had chairs. Also the woman behind us wouldn't shut up and kept talking on her cell phone. Seriously. So disrespectful to others there and to the event itself. This was not a "celebration". So much different than when you go to The Wall. Thousands of people and you can hear a pin drop there.
The most emotional part of the ceremony was when each hero's name was called an the bells tolled after. There was a woman who was pregnant on that flight and her unborn child was also mentioned and they tolled the small bell for it. There weren't many dry eyes during this part of the ceremony and many, many heads were bowed.
The end of the ceremony came when they unveiled the wall with the 40 names. It's made of marble and each name has it's own "slab". We were a bit far away (and I was a bit too short) to see them actually unveil it, but Mike did get a picture beforehand when it was still covered. They gave the family members and guests 30 minutes to view the wall by themselves. I really wanted to see it but there were so many people there. Me and Mike are going to go down again either this fall or maybe in the spring when it's not so crowded so we can see the wall, the bells, etc. up close.
This picture was found online for one of the news agencies. We were riding for Deora Frances Bodley. I'm not sure who this man is who is touching her name-perhaps her grandfather (she was only 20 yrs old). I will never forget Deora and I will always think of her now.
Crash site. Where the heroes are laid to rest.
 Going to this memorial made this really sink home and made me realize that these were people like me and you who had lives and families, who either went to school or to work every day--just like you and me. They were ordinary people who did an extraordinary thing that day. Joe Biden said it best when he said, "Everyone has courage in them and maybe one day it will be called into use." It was called that fateful day at 9:58 am on Sept. 11, 2001.
Walking Out with a new perspective on life.
 So when you see shows, advertisements, etc. about 9/11, please PLEASE do not just think of the planes, victims, firemen, and police officers that lost their lives in NY--think of the 40--rarely spoken of--true heroes that died taking this plane down so it wouldn't reach it's destination. I give respect to those that died in NY, but the firemen and officers were doing their jobs---the passengers of Flight 93 knew they were going to die and instead of sitting back and letting it happen they took matters into their own hands and launched an attack against the hijackers and saved countless lives in so doing. That, in my opinion, is what a true hero is. I find it sad that the media does not give these 40 heroes the true recognition that they deserve. 

Just a footnote: it took the fire crew and police 15 minutes to get to this crash site after the plane went down. 15 minutes. There was no nicely paved road at the time only pastureland--and it only took them 15 minutes to get there. Please think of them too.