Flight 93 memorial to be dedicated this weekend
SHANKSVILLE, PA (KTRK) -- If you ask anyone, chances are they know the story of United Flight 93. Passengers rushed the hijackers on 9/11 and made sure the plane didn't become another weapon.
More than one and a half million people have visited the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the plane crashed. But developing a plan and raising the money has not been easy.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors have been to the Flight 93 crash site over the past ten years.
"You take an ordinary field and do a very heroic thing and then it becomes a very sacred thing, a very somber thing," said visitor David Premont.
"This is a 22-acre National park," said Larry Catuzzi, who has been here more than 40 times. "Picture the flight of the plane coming from this direction."
Catuzzi's daughter, Lauren, was one of 40 passengers on board Flight 93 when it crashed on this reclaimed Pennsylvania strip mine.
"It is the resting place of our loved ones. And it's bittersweet obviously in many, many respects," said Catuzzi.
Since then, he's been involved in raising money and designing the memorial to honor the passengers on the flight as part of the Flight 93 national committee.
Getting the earth moving was not easy. Half of the $62 million price tag had to be raised through private funds, and money for the rural Pennsylvania site did not come in as quickly as the World Trade Center and Pentagon locations.
It took two years to get the land in title to the park service; after all there could only be one location.
"There was no choice. Those were made by forces and people that were already decided," said Patrick White, VP of Flight 93 Families.
The land was owned by seven different corporations and families.
"The complexity of the different types of holdings, it was just huge," said White.
The families finally saw the groundbreaking in 2009.
"One of the differences here is this is a National Park, it's like Yellowstone, Independence Hall; it's a place where the nation has chosen that no matter what else happens, it will exist forever," said John Reynolds with the Flight 93 Advisory Commission.
Visitors can view the field as they make their way from the gateway to the crash site to the memorial plaza, and see the names and stories of the passengers on the walls.
"I want people to be able to come here and learn about the individuals because it could have been any one of us. I think that's part of the story, part of the inspiration," said Gordon Felt, brother of a Flight 93 passenger.
A museum and tower of voices is also part of the plan.
Each time Larry Catuzzi visits the site he says he sees something different and feels the seasons of change.
"There's a lot of emotions that come away from being here," said Catuzzi.
Phase 2 of the memorial is expected to be completed by 2014 with the final phase, the Tower of Voices, scheduled to be finished by 2017.
Christine Dobbyn will have more live reports from Shanksville, Pennsylvania through the weekend. And anchor Art Rascon is in New York City for the 9/11 anniversary.
pennsylvania, national/world, christine dobbyn
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