First Lady Michelle Obama Joins Mrs. Laura Bush at Flight 93 National Memorial on 9/11

Posted by: Audiegrl

A woman looks at items left at the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, September 10, 2009. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

First Lady Michelle Obama will join Mrs. Laura W. Bush as an additional keynote speaker at the September 11, 2010, ceremony being held at the future site of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  They will join other distinguished guests including Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.  The ceremony will honor the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93, along with all of those lost on September 11th.  United Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, after the 40 passengers and crew fought back against terrorists attempting to attack our nation’s capital.  Fundraising is currently underway to complete the memorial which is under construction and set for dedication on September 11, 2011.

We are deeply honored to welcome First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush and all of our guests to this important event,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO, National Park Foundation.  ”Their show of support honors the lives and memories of these 40 heroes and everyone we lost on September 11th, and serves as a valuable reminder of how important this memorial is to preserve and share their story.

The ceremony will be held at the Western Overlook at the future site of Flight 93 National Memorial.  In 2001, the Western Overlook was the location of the investigative command post for Flight 93 and was the point from which the families of the passengers and crew first observed the crash site. It was also where the media reported on the crash and provided the public with the first images from the crash scene. It is the site of the temporary memorial while the Flight 93 National Memorial is under construction.

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The Memorial Today
A spontaneous and organic memorial now stands a short distance from the crash site, visited by nearly one million people since 9/11. These visitors have come here to leave personal tributes of their own making, listen to the story of Flight 93 recounted by resident volunteer docents, or simply rest on one of several benches inscribed with the names of the passengers and crewmembers to reflect on what happened there seven years ago.

Although the temporary memorial has served an important and necessary function for Flight 93, this space has been largely inadequate to meet the increasing numbers of visitors, accommodate a growing collection of tributes, facilitate more in-depth educational programming, and enable visitors to have a closer physical proximity to the crash site. With the building of a lasting memorial, we can dramatically improve the overall quality of the visitor experience.

The Memorial Tomorrow
The Flight 93 National Memorial consists of a series of thoughtfully designed features embedded in the landscape that resonate with healing and understanding of the personalities and events that defined Flight 93. More than a dozen distinct elements will organize the visitor experience, beginning with the Sacred Ground where Flight 93 crashed, and radiating across a mile-wide Field of Honor to include panoramic overlooks, a Visitor Center, memorial tree groves, and the sentinel-like Tower of Voices.

Educational Programs
Educational programming at the Memorial will guide visitors toward a deeper appreciation of the brave sacrifice of the 40 Heroes. Guided interpretation, exhibitions, conferences, lectures, films, publications, Junior Ranger programs, environmental activities, Internet site content, and many other initiatives will provide a wide range of learning for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, both at the park and in schools, libraries, and computer stations across the country.

Restoring the Landscape
The Memorial will be the centerpiece of a large and expansive 2,220-acre park, one of the newest in the National Park system. Much of the park was once a surface mine where the search for coal scarred the landscape through the removal of tons of soil and depletion of old-growth forests. A new vision for the park will reclaim this land from its destructive past and renew the area around the memorial through reforestation, pond rehabilitation, and planting of thousands of wildflowers and natural grasses. Through careful planning and management, the park can be its own source of energy and sustainability.

All Americans and freedom-respecting citizens around the world were in some way touched by the events of 9/11. During a day of extraordinary stories, Flight 93 stands out for the simplicity and audacity of its message: stop an unimaginable attack to save innocent lives. Creating a place that not only remembers the 40 Heroes but also inspires ordinary citizens to act in their own heroic ways is what the Flight 93 National Memorial will be about. The Campaign “building, educating, healing” is the means to achieve this important goal.

Design Features
By enhancing the expansive natural landscape and the monumental scale of the site, this beautiful and carefully considered memorial tells the story of the extraordinary acts of the passengers and crew members of Flight 93. The Flight 93 National Memorial design will include the following features…

Tower of Voices
Tall enough to be seen from the highway, the Tower of Voices will mark the entry to and exit from the park. Reaching 93 feet into the sky, within resonating rings of White Pines, the tower will house 40 aluminum wind chimes. The continuous sound of chimes in the wind will be an audible reminder of the selfless acts of courage of the passengers and crewmembers; many of whose last contact on Flight 93 was through their voices on phone calls.

40 Memorial Groves
Creating a living memorial to the 40 Heroes of Flight 93 within the Memorial is the objective of planting the 40 Memorial Groves along the perimeter of one-half of the Field of Honor. Each grove will contain 40 trees, such as sugar or red maples, for a total of 1,600 trees that radiate toward the center of the Field. Concrete radials will subtly differentiate the groves, supplemented by recessed and other forms of lighting.

Field of Honor
Measuring one-half mile in diameter and covering over 150 acres immediately adjacent to the Sacred Ground, the bowl-shaped Field of Honor links the entire memorial through sightlines and pathways. Once a surface coal mine, the Field will be “rehabilitated” through the sustainable planting of native grasses and a mix of indigenous wildflowers. The Field will be framed by groves of maple trees and a walking path and road leading from the Visitor Center to the Sacred Ground.

Entry Portal
An estimated 250,000 visitors each year will enter the Field of Honor through the Entry Portal along the Flight Path walkway. Set along the final trajectory of Flight 93, visitors will immediately be brought back to 10:00 am on September 11, 2001 when Flight 93 careened in this direction toward a stand of hemlock trees. After passing through the twin walls framing the sky, visitors will be standing at an overlook with a sweeping view of the Field of Honor.

Visitor Center
The Visitor Center will be located between the large concrete walls designating the Entry Portal and final flight path of Flight 93. The center will be the educational and interpretive hub of the Memorial. The drama and tragedy of Flight 93 will be chronicled using the latest audio and video technology, primary source materials, photographs, and oral history testimony from those who were there. Exhibits will go far beyond the story itself, creating a forum where visitors, families, and school groups can discuss the legacy of Flight 93 and what it means to be a hero. Major donors to the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign will be recognized in the center.

Western Overlook
A large area just below the Entry Portal overlooks the western edge of the impact site of Flight 93 and provides a key vantage point to view the entire Memorial site. Years ago, the mining operations kept an equipment repair and parts shop at this location, and immediately after the crash of Flight 93, the Federal Bureau of Investigation set up its command post at this location. Foundations and floor slabs will remain to evoke the memory of the structures and location, where family members were first brought to view the crash site.

Among the restorative features intended to heal the landscape of the site, a series of wetlands and ponds adjacent to the Sacred Ground will be preserved as natural features in the design and construction of the Flight 93 National Memorial. One of the “leftovers” from the surface mining activities, the wetlands will be transformed into a self-sustaining natural habitat and aquatic eco-system for local flora and fauna to reside and thrive. In addition to creating environmental interest, the ponds will serve important design functions as a naturally-occurring reservoir for irrigation and for storm water that will flow down from higher elevations.

Sacred Ground
As the final resting place of the passengers and crewmembers, the Sacred Ground is the heart of the Flight 93 National Memorial. A stone and slate plaza will offer a closer-than-ever viewing position of the flower-filled meadow and hemlock grove which absorbed much of the devastating impact of the crash. Small niches along the low, sloped wall of the viewing plaza will accommodate personal tributes and remembrances from visitors. Benches and trees at each end of the plaza will create a quiet setting for peaceful contemplation.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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