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Visiting the Flight 93 Memorial near Somerset, Pennsylvania.

Paying Your Respects at the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County

To say that I wish the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County didn’t exist is a bit of an understatement. After all, the events of September 11, 2001, that led to United Airlines flight 93 crashing into this field in rural Pennsylvania are something that no one alive on that day will ever forget.

On that fateful day, I had just started my freshman year of college and it was one of the very few days that I was homesick during my entire four years. Even now, as I write about it, despite not knowing anyone who was directly affected on that day, I still feel a wave of sadness come over me.

When I visited the Laurel Highlands in April 2014, I knew that I needed to visit the memorial, to see where these tragic events had happened and pay my respects to those who died so valiantly.

Driving up to the Flight 93 Memorial, I had immediate feelings of both peacefulness and sadness. The memorial to those who died on Flight 93 is unique in that it isn’t located in the middle of bustling New York City or next to a military facility just outside of Washington, DC, but instead, in an empty field.

The pathway at the Flight 93 Memorial with the small visitors center in the distance.

The pathway at the Flight 93 Memorial with the small visitors center in the distance.

When you reach the memorial area, you’ll first encounter a grouping of signs that give information about the significance of the site and the names and faces of those onboard the ill-fated plane.

Inside a very small building, park rangers offer amazingly detailed accounts of the events of 9/11 and are willing to answer any questions that you may have. A new visitor center is currently being built and should be open by the summer of 2015. However, there is something about the small center that seems fitting for the site.

Truthfully, there isn’t much to see at the Flight 93 Memorial. A long pathway leads out along the field where the plane crashed. As I walked along the path, I began to notice small trinkets and gifts that had been left at the site. In many ways, the site reminded me of a cemetery. I suppose because that’s what it really is.

As you look over the field, notice the large boulder. It was placed by the National Park Service a few years ago to mark the spot where the nose of the plane plummeted into the ground.

The open plaza contains several signs with information about the events of September 11, 2001 and Flight 93.

The open plaza contains several signs with information about the events of September 11, 2001, and Flight 93.

At the end of the walkway is a grouping of large stone panels. These panels are aligned with the angle the plane flew into the field, with one being reserved for each innocent person killed on the flight. Looking over the names, it’s hard not to get a bit teary-eyed thinking about what happened in the field.

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    Thinking back on my visit to the Flight 93 Memorial, I think that it’s a very important place for people spending time in Somerset County to check out. However, don’t expect to leave feeling happy and uplifted because visiting is a very sobering experience.

    My recommendation would be that after visiting the Flight 93 Memorial, head over to the Que Creek Mine Rescue Site. The events at this mine happened roughly 11 months after the events of 9/11, but had a happy ending with the rescue of the 11 miners who were trapped underground. It’s certainly an uplifting way to end a very somber visit to the Flight 93 Memorial.


    Flight 93 Memorial

    Hours:Daily: 9a-5p
    Grounds open dawn to dusk

    Cost: Free

    Website: NPS.gov/FLNI

    Address: 6424 Lincoln Highway
    Stoystown, PA 15563

    See map below for other area attractions.


    AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

    Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

    3 Comments

    • Suzanne Fluor

      I can imagine that a visit to this Memorial is very moving and uplifting. Nice write – up.

    • The Guy

      A very good and fitting review their Jim.

      As you may know I visited this memorial a short time ago, in June in fact. It was very sombre and in many respects fitting. Everyone there knew the significance of the site and the history.

      I kind of like the relatively minimal approach to the memorial and wonder if these expansion plans will maybe detract from the message we should receive from the site. I suppose I’ll have to revisit in a few years to fully grasp the change proposed.

      Interesting to hear of you mention of that mine at the end. I hadn’t heard of that before. I’ll try to add it to my list the next time I’m in the area.

      Thanks again for a great write up Jim.

      • Jim Cheney

        I wonder the same thing about a bigger visitor center. As you said, we’ll have to wait and see.

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