The terrorist attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001, will forever be remembered as one of the biggest national tragedies in United States history. During that tragic day, four commercial airliners were hijacked and used to strike targets in major U.S. cities, and nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, including 40 who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 after successfully thwarting an attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Instead of allowing the terrorists to make it to Washington, D.C., the 33 passengers and seven crew members aboard Flight 93 fought back against the terrorists before their plane crashed in a field outside of Shanksville in western Pennsylvania. A year after the crash, a temporary memorial was dedicated to the victims, and the official Flight 93 National Memorial was completed, commemorated, and opened to the public on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.
The visitor's center, which is located on a hill overlooking the crash site and Wall of Names, was opened on September 10, 2015, and the "Tower of Voices," a 93-foot tall musical instrument comprised of 40 windchimes commemorating the victims of the crash, was completed and dedicated on September 9, 2018.
Visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial
About an hour (60 miles) southeast of Pittsburgh near the rural farm town of Shanksville along Lincoln Highway (U.S. Route 30), the entrance to the memorial is located at 6424 Lincoln Highway in Stoytown, Pennsylvania. The park grounds are open year-round from sunrise to sunset daily, and the Visitor's Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Once you arrive at the Memorial grounds, which cover approximately eight and a half square miles, you'll first come to the Visitor Center Complex, where it takes about 45 minutes to fully explore the exhibits, Flight Path Overlook, and the Eastern National bookstore. The Memorial Plaza—which features the crash site and debris field, the Wall of Names, and the Tower of Voices—is located a mile away and is accessible via two walking paths or by driving along Ring Road.
Visitors are welcome to leave small tribute items along the Wall of Names or at the base of the Tower of Voices, but they must be able to be hand-carried from the parking lot. The crash site and debris field are only accessible to family members of the victims of the United Airlines Flight 93 crash, but you can walk along the boundary of the site itself.
The Tragic Flight of United Airlines Flight 93
Forty ordinary people came together that day for a cross-country flight from New Jersey to San Francisco on United Airlines Flight 93. However, when their plane was hijacked and turned around near Cleveland, Ohio, on a course for Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Capitol, these 40 ordinary people showed extraordinary courage and selflessness.
It couldn't have been easy talking to their loved ones on the phone, learning that other planes had been hijacked that morning and crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, but instead of giving up, these 40 people came together to lead the charge in the war against terrorism.
We'll never know for sure what happened when the passengers attempted to overpower the terrorists and storm the cockpit, but we do know the plane never made it to its intended target. Flight 93 crashed just after 10 a.m. on September 11, 2001, in a rural western Pennsylvania field, just outside of the tiny town of Shanksville. All 40 aboard died, but hundreds and possibly thousands of American lives were saved thanks to the heroes of Flight 93.
The 40 Heroes of Flight 93
At a commemoration ceremony in Shanksville on the one-year anniversary of September 11, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, who was the governor of Pennsylvania at the time of the crash, hailed the passengers and crew of Flight 93 as "citizen soldiers" and heroes for their actions to prevent the aircraft from hitting its intended target. "In a field in rural Pennsylvania, right prevailed over wrong and hope was born again," he said of these 40 Americans lost that day.
- Christian Adams: The 37-year-old husband and father from Biebelsheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, was flying to San Francisco for a wine-tasting event as part of his job as director of export for the German Wine Institute. Christian's survivors included his wife, Silke; son, Lukas; and daughter, Theresa.
- Lorraine G. Bay, Crew: A 37-year United veteran and senior flight attendant, Lorraine, 58, from East Windsor, New Jersey, had chosen Flight 93 over another flight because it was nonstop. Lorraine left behind her husband, Erich.
- Todd Beamer: An account manager for Oracle Corporation, this 32-year old father of two was traveling to Redwood Shores, California, for a business meeting, and planned to return home on a red-eye flight that night. He is one of the more-famous heroes for his "Let's roll" statement made to the passengers as they prepared to overpower the hijackers. Todd's survivors included his wife, Lisa; two young sons, David and Drew; and daughter, Morgan.
- Alan Beaven: An environmental lawyer from Oakland, California, Alan was headed to San Francisco to try a case before leaving on a planned year-long sabbatical to do volunteer work for the SYDA Foundation in Bombay, India. Originally born in New Zealand, Alan's survivors included his wife, Kimi; daughter, Sonali; and two sons from a previous marriage, Chris and John.
- Mark Bingham: The 31-year-old world-traveling, fun-loving owner of the Bingham Group in San Francisco, California, was heading home after a weekend in New York City. Mark's survivors included his mother, Alice; father, Jerry; and step-mother, Karen.
- Deora Bodley: A junior at Santa Clara University in San Diego, California, 20-year-old Deora was returning home from a visit with friends in New Jersey and Connecticut. Deora's survivors included her mother, Deborah; father, Derrill; and a half-sister, Murial.
- Sandra W. Bradshaw, Crew: A United flight attendant, Sandy, 38, lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. She left behind her husband, Phil; daughter, Alexandria; son, Nathan; and stepdaughter, Shenan.
- Marion Britton: Headed to San Francisco for a computer operations conference with fellow passenger Waleska Martinez, 53-year-old Marion was an assistant regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau in New York City. Marion's survivors included her brother, Paul, and her half-brother, John.
- Thomas E. Burnett, Jr.: The 38-year-old family man from San Ramon, California, was senior vice president and COO of medical devices company, Thoratec Corporation. Tom was heading home from a business meeting in New Jersey and a weekend in Minnesota and Wisconsin. His survivors included his wife, Deena, and three young daughters, Madison, Halley, and Anna Clare.
- William Cashman: This fun-loving ironworker from West New York, New Jersey, was headed out west for a hiking trip in Yosemite National Park with his old friend, Patrick Driscoll. William, 60, left behind his wife, Margaret.
- Georgine Rose Corrigan: A hard-working mother and grandmother, Georgine made her living buying and selling antiques, vintage jewelry, and clothing. She was returning home to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she lived with her daughter, Laura Brough, after an antique buying trip to New Jersey. Georgine's survivors included her brother; daughter, Laura; and two grandsons.
- Patricia Cushing: Mother of five, Patricia, 69, was traveling on vacation with sister-in-law Jane Folger. She was a retired service representative for New Jersey Bell and lived in Bayonne, New Jersey. Patricia's survivors included her sons, Thomas, John, and David, and daughters, Alicia and Pegeen.
- Jason Dahl, Captain: The Captain of United Airlines Flight 93, 43-year-old Jason was piloting that flight in order to have time off to take his wife to London to celebrate their wedding anniversary on September 14. Jason left behind a wife, Sandy, and son, Matthew.
- Joseph DeLuca: On a trip to California wine county with his new girlfriend, Lindo Gronlund, the 52-year-old computer program designer for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare lived in Succasunna, New Jersey. Joseph's survivors included his parents, Joseph Sr. and Felicia, and his sister, Carol Hughes.
- Patrick Driscoll: After retiring in 1992 from his job as director of software development for regional Bell telephone companies, Patrick, 70, started traveling, including this trip with friend William Cashman to hike in Yosemite National Park. Patrick, aka "Joe," was from Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, and left behind his wife, Maureen; sons, Stephen, Patrick, and Christopher; and daughter, Pamela.
- Edward Porter Felt: A computer engineer for BEA Systems from Matawan, New Jersey, 41-year-old Edward was headed to a business meeting in San Francisco. Edward's survivors included his wife, Sandy, and daughters, Adrienne and Kathryn.
- Jane C. Folger: Jane, 73, a retired bank officer from Bayonne, New Jersey, was traveling to San Francisco on vacation with her sister-in-law, Patricia Cushing. Jane's survivors included her sons, Robert, Thomas, and Michael, and daughter, Kathleen.
- Colleen L. Fraser: A passionate lobbyist for the disabled, Colleen was born with an inherited bone disorder that kept her height at 4 feet, 6 inches, and made it a little harder for her to get around. The 51-year-old from Elizabeth, New Jersey, served as executive director for Progressive Center for Independent Living, and vice chairwoman of the New Jersey Developmental Disabilities Council and was on her way to a grant-writing seminar in Reno, Nevada. Colleen's survivors included her sister Christine, brother Bruce, two stepsisters, and six stepbrothers.
- Andrew Garcia: He was 62, but most people wouldn't have believed it if they met him. Andrew kept active, both physically and mentally, and loved to play tricks on people. The president and founder of Cinco Group, Inc., Andrew was returning home from a business meeting. Andrew's survivors included his wife, Dorothy; daughters, Kelly Garcia and Audrey Olive; and son, Andrew.
- Jeremy Glick: This fun-loving sales manager for Vividence, Inc., lived in Hewitt, New Jersey, with his wife, Lyzbeth and infant daughter, Emerson. Jeremy was on his way to California for a business trip, and his survivors included his wife and daughter.
- Lauren Grandcolas: A 38-year-old advertising sales consultant for Good Housekeeping magazine, Lauren was returning home from her grandmother's funeral in New Jersey. She left behind her husband, Jack.
- Wanda A. Green, Crew: The United Airlines flight attendant also worked as a real-estate agent and had plans to open her own real-estate office. Wanda, 49, was from Linden, New Jersey, and left behind her son, Joe Benjamin, and daughter, Jennifer.
- Donald F. Greene: Executive vice president and chief financial officer of Safe Flight Instrument Corporation, Donald, 52, lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was headed to join four of his brothers for a hiking trip before attending an aviation industry convention. Donald's survivors included his wife, Claudette; son, Charlie; and daughter, Jody.
- Linda Gronlund: It was to be a short business trip and then a birthday tour through California wine country with boyfriend Joe DeLuca for Linda, 47. The manager of environmental compliance for BMW North America, Linda left behind her mother, Doris; father, Gunnar; and sister, Elsa Strong.
- Richard Guadagno: A longtime employee of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Rich was employed as manager of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Service. He was headed home to Eureka, California, after celebrating his grandmother's 100th birthday. Rich's survivors included his parents, Beatrice and Jerry, and sister, Lori.
- LeRoy Homer, Jr., First Officer: A graduate of the Air Force Academy and veteran of the Persian Gulf War, LeRoy, 36, was in his sixth year with United Airlines. LeRoy left behind a wife, Melodie, and a young daughter, Laurel.
- Toshiya Kuge: Following a summer vacation in America and Canada, Toshiya was headed back for his second year of college in Japan. The 20-year-old from Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, was a sophomore at Waseda University in Tokyo. Toshiya's survivors included his parents, Yachiyo and Hajime.
- CeeCee Lyles, Crew: A former police officer, CeeCee was a 33-year-old wife and mother from Fort Myers, Florida, who was one of the flight attendants on Flight 93. She was survived by her husband, Lorne, and sons, Jerome Smith, Jevon Castrillo, Justin Lyles, and Jordan Lyles.
- Hilda Marcin: Born Hildegarde Zill in Schwedelbach, Germany, Hilda was a retired teacher's aide and bookkeeper from Mount Olive, New Jersey. She was traveling to California to live with her younger daughter, Carole O'Hare. Hilda left behind daughters Elizabeth and Carole.
- Waleska Martinez: The 37-year-old Puerto Rican from Jersey City, New Jersey, was traveling with co-worker Marion Britton to a computer operations conference in San Francisco, and worked as a supervisory computer specialist for the New York regional office of the U.S. Census Bureau. Waleska left behind parents Juan and Irma Martinez; brothers Juan Jr. and Reinaldo; and sister Lourdes Lebron.
- Nicole Miller: A 21-year-old senior at West Valley College in San Jose, California, Nicole was returning home after a vacation in New York and New Jersey with her boyfriend, Ryan Brown. Survivors included her mother, Cathy; stepfather, Wayne; father, David; stepmother, Catherine; sister, Tiffney; half-sister, Danielle; and half-brothers, Wayne and David.
- Louis J. Nacke, II: A distribution manager for Kay-Bee Toys, Lou, 42, from New Hope, Pennsylvania, was on his way to Sacramento for a business trip. He left behind his wife, Amy, and sons, Joseph Nicholas and Louis Paul II.
- Donald Peterson: Half of the only married couple on Flight 93, Don, 66, was a retired president of Continental Electric Company. He worked with his wife, Jean, as a church and community volunteer in their town of Spring Lake, New Jersey. The two were on their way to a family reunion at Yosemite National Park. Don's survivors included his sons, David, Hamilton, and Royster Peterson; and stepdaughters, Jennifer Grace and Catherine Hoadley.
- Jean Hoadley Peterson: Wife of Don Peterson, Jean also devoted herself as a church and community volunteer and was a retired nurse and nursing teacher. Jean left behind her daughters, Jennifer Grace and Catherine, and stepsons, David, Hamilton, and Royster Peterson.
- Mark Rothenberg: Called Mickey by his family and friends, Mark was on his way to Taiwan to conduct business for his company, MDR Global Resources. The 52-year-old from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, left behind his wife, Meredith, and daughters, Sara and Rachel.
- Christine Snyder: A native Hawaiian, Christine, 32, worked as a certified arborist for the Outdoor Circle, a nonprofit environmental group. She was returning home to her husband, Tom, in Kailua, Hawaii, after attending the American Forestry Conference in Washington, D.C., and a visit to New York City.
- John Talignani: A retired bartender from Staten Island, New York, John was headed to California to claim the body of his stepson, Alan Zykofsky, who had just died in a car crash. John's survivors included his stepsons, Mitchell and Glenn.
- Honor Elizabeth Wainio: A 27-year-old regional manager for Discovery Channel stores from Watchung, New Jersey, Honor was on her way to a company-wide business meeting. She left behind her father, Ben; mother, Mary; stepfather, Jay; brother, Tom; and sister, Sarah.
- Deborah Ann Jacobs Welsh, Crew: Debbie, the 49-year-old United Airlines flight attendant who served as purser on Flight 93, was a native of New York City. She left behind her husband, Patrick.
- Kristin Gould White: This freelance medical writer from New York City was on her way to visit friends in California. Kristin, 65, left behind her daughter, Allison.