14 years on, Flight 93 memorial centre opens

Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils and debris.
(Above) Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils and debris.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils and debris.
Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils and debris.(above)PHOTOS: REUTERS
Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils and debris.
Mr Gordon Felt, whose brother died on Flight 93, leading a tour through the Flight 93 memorial centre in Pennsylvania, US, on Wednesday. On display are remnants from the crash, including utensils (above ) and debris.PHOTOS: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Flight 93, which crashed into a field on the morning of Sept 11, 2001, killing 40 people, is to be remembered in a new US$26 million (S$37 million) visitor centre and museum.

The memorial's visitor centre opened yesterday in a striking concrete and glass building overlooking the hemlock trees and tall grass where the plane crashed at 10.03am.

Fourteen years after people on board the hijacked United Airlines flight forced the plane into the ground as terrorists aimed it towards Washington, their story is on display for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to central Pennsylvania each year to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial.

What began in the agonising days after the crash as little more than a chain-link fence surrounding a debris field has become a full-fledged national monument, financed by a public-private partnership and operated by the National Park Service.

It took the families years to assemble the land for the memorial, and even longer to raise the money, most of it from private donations.

The design competition stretched out the process even more. One World Trade Center, the 104-storey building erected after the collapse of the twin towers in New York City, went up faster.

People who arrive at the memorial will be led to the visitor centre along a black granite path that precisely marks the final path that Flight 93 took on Sept 11.

The path leads through a narrow break in the middle of two 12m-tall concrete walls that each evoke the shape of an airplane wing, and towards a view of the large boulder that now sits at the spot where the nose of the plane smashed into the ground.

Among the exhibits at the museum are remnants from the flight: frayed and burnt wires, bent metal fragments, a crushed circuit board, a singed piece of cloth, a crumpled safety instruction card, a seatbelt, and a Visa card used by a terrorist.

When park-goers arrive at the memorial, they will have the opportunity to learn the story of the 40 doomed souls on Flight 93 whose actions created what one Los Angeles firefighter called "a common field one day, a field of honour forever".

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline '14 years on, Flight 93 memorial centre opens'. Print Edition | Subscribe