Features

A place forgotten

"A place forgotten" Continued...

Issue: "Remembering 9/11," Sept. 10, 2011

Glessner, one of the original site volunteers, recalled one Michigan family driving to the site on Thanksgiving Day. They ate their turkey dinner near their car in the makeshift parking lot and drove back to Michigan. "This was where they decided as a family they wanted to say thanks on Thanksgiving," she said. Soldiers often bring their families here to say, "This is why I am going overseas."

The memorial's parking lot had cars with license tags from seven different states on a recent mid-August day. Visitors peered past the fence to catch a glimpse of the yet unopened memorial. But more than talking about Flight 93, the visitors more eagerly discussed their own Sept. 11 memories. The crash site is serving as a place for an ongoing dialogue about 9/11 and its aftermath. Visitors often leave messages, especially children:

"When you got on the plane you thought you were regular people but now your heroes," reads one.

"Now I understand why my dady's at war," reads another.

The plane, loaded with 7,000 gallons of jet fuel, ripped in the ground a crater that is about 10 feet deep and nearly 50 feet wide. But the land is already starting to heal: Nestled among ponds and hemlock-covered hills, the memorial has some new additions-yellow wildflowers cover the impact point and freshly planted sweet gum trees, recently donated by the World Trade Center site planners, dot a path leading from a hill to the memorial. The land seems to speak to everyone who comes here. People look, listen, talk, and leave transformed.

"No one in the world had heard of this place," said recent visitor Paul Seipp, 53, of Pittsburgh as he looked down from an overlook at the memorial. "Now everybody can grieve together here."

Listen to Edward Lee Pitts discuss the Shanksville memorial on The World and Everything in It.

Where were you on 9/11? Share remembrances with your fellow WORLD readers and view a slideshow of images from Sept. 11, 2001, featured in WORLD's Remembering 9/11 10th Anniversary Special Issue.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee is WORLD's Washington Bureau chief. As a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he was embedded with a National Guard unit in Iraq. He also once worked in the press office of Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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