The Jury Talks Back

3/11/2009

Flight 93 Memorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 8:33 pm

While Pennsylvania is planning the Flight 93 National Memorial at the crash site, a California monument was completed over a year ago.  The San Francisco Bay Area Flight 93 Memorial is reportedly the first major memorial to honor the heroic passengers and crew of the ill-fated flight.

The monument begins with the Circle of Remembrance, where three boards telling the story of Flight 93 surround a tree planted in dirt that came from the crash site.  A path leads by the 40 granite monuments, each one bearing the name, age, and hometown of a passenger or crew member.  The unfinished sides of each stone represent the victim’s unfinished life; a stainless steel mirror above the name reminds visitors that it could have been any one of us.  At the end of the path is the Circle of Hope, where tiles hand-painted by local children surround the American flag.

The monument was envisioned by Michael Emerson of Hayward, Calif.  A retired Marine and veteran of Operation Desert Storm, Emerson was struck by the bravery of the passengers and crew.  He has repeatedly declared, “Those who died aboard Flight 93 are not victims; they are heroes.”  Initially he contacted and corresponded with relatives of some of the heroes.  Following a visit to Ground Zero on July 4, 2002, he determined to build a memorial to honor Flight 93, which was supposed to land in San Francisco. 

Emerson first approached Hayward, but the city council wasn’t interested.  Officials in neighboring Union City were more receptive.  They offered Sugar Mill Landing Park, a quiet strip of land across the street from a busy shopping center.  Emerson then began seeking donations for his project.

The memorial became a national testament to the cooperation and goodwill of American citizens.  A Wisconsin monument company agreed to donate the red granite for the 40 one-ton stones.  A firm in Georgia donated blue granite for the story boards.  A Georgia trucking company transported the red granite from Wisconsin to Georgia for polishing, and a Minnesota company brought the finished stones 2000 miles to California.  A Bay Area architect designed the memorial, and more than 100 union workers volunteered their time to construct it.  Emerson received donations and additional support for the project from hundreds of residents and businesses.

Despited encountering a number of obstacles, Emerson realized his dream when the Flight 93 Memorial was dedicated on a crisp, clear day in December, 2007.  Among the hundreds at the dedication ceremony were family and friends of the victims, donors, sponsors, and various civic officials, including several who flew in from Somerset County, Penn.  With the remaining donations, Emerson presented a $28,000 check to Union City for a trust fund to maintain the memorial.

Today marks seven and a half years.

[Note: I live within five miles of the memorial.  You can see me in this outstanding magazine article about the project.  In the crowd on page 21, in the upper left corner just behind the barrier, I’m wearing a blue sweater with large green and red diamonds.]


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