A temporary memorial to the 40 victims was established soon after the crash, with a permanent memorial slated to be constructed and completed by 2011. The current design for the memorial is a modified version of the entry Crescent of Embrace by Paul and Milena Murdoch.
Of the four aircraft hijacked on September 11, Flight 93 is the only one that did not reach its intended target, presumed to be the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Several passengers and crew members made telephone calls aboard the flight and learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As a result, the passengers decided to mount an assault against the hijackers and wrest control of the aircraft. The plane crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Washington, D.C., killing all 44 people aboard, including the 4 hijackers.
The crash site is located west of Skyline Road, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of U.S. Route 30 (Lincoln Highway), 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Indian Lake, and approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Shanksville in Stonycreek Township.
The site of the crash is enclosed by a fence and is closed to the public except for victims' family members. The temporary memorial is located on a hillside 500 yards (460 m) from the crash site. The memorial includes a 40-foot (to commemorate the 40 passengers) chain-link fence on which visitors can leave flags, hats, rosaries, and other items. The items are collected by the National Park Service and stored until a permanent memorial is built.
Next to the fence are several memorials such as a bronze plaque of names, flags, and a large cross. The temporary memorial also includes a row of small wooden angels, one for each passenger or crew member. There are also handwritten messages on the guardrails at the memorial. At the memorial site, there is also a small building where visitors can sign a guestbook. The building is staffed by National Park Service volunteers, called ambassadors, who answer questions. In the years following the attacks, approximately 150,000 visitors each year have come to the memorial site, a number that reached "nearly a million people" as of July 2008.
The temporary memorial, for years on land leased for the memorial by Svonavec Inc. (a coal company based in Somerset, Pennsylvania), was moved in 2008 because Svonavec refused to renew the lease. It was moved across the road, on land that is part of about 900 acres (360 ha) that Families of Flight 93, bought in 2008. Svonavec had leased the land as it negotiated with the NPS over the purchase of the 273 acres (110 ha) it owned, land that includes most of the "sacred ground" where Flight 93 crashed; Svonavec’s treasurer, Michael Svonavec, had told the family group he thought the land was "worth $50 million, but you can have it for $10 million". The NPS had offered Svonavec $250,000 for the 273 acres, an offer repeatedly rejected; in August 2009, it was announced that Svonavec agreed to sell the land based on a price determined by the courts.
On March 7, 2002, Congressman John Murtha (PA-12) introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives to establish a National Memorial to be developed by a commission, and ultimately administered by the National Park Service. On April 16, 2002, Senator Arlen Specter (PA) introduced a version of the "Flight 93 National Memorial Act" in the Senate. On September 10, 2002 the bill passed both houses of Congress. The final bill specifically excluded the four hijackers from the passengers to be memorialized. When signed by President George W. Bush on September 24, 2002, it became Public Law No. 107-226, and the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By September 2005, the commission was required to send to the Secretary of the Interior and Congress recommendations for the planning, design, construction, and long-term management of a permanent memorial.
The proposed boundaries of the National Memorial extend from Lambertsville Road to U.S. Highway 30. It will be about 2,200 acres (890 ha), of which about 1,000 acres (400 ha) will be privately held, but protected through partnership agreements. The memorial itself would be a 400-acre (160 ha) bowl-shaped area, with 1,800 acres (730 ha) surrounding as a buffer. In December 2002, landowner Tim Lambert donated 6 acres (2.4 ha) at the crash site, and entered discussions with the Conservation Fund regarding 160 acres (65 ha) additional. Using some funds donated from receipts for the film United 93, the Families of Flight 93 organization purchased 3 acres (1.2 ha) in the summer of 2006. The organization is also seeking $10 million in federal funding to use for acquiring land. In November 2006, the Conservation Fund acquired 100 acres (40 ha) as buffer land which are to be managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. PBS Coals Inc. sold 900 acres (360 ha) to the families' organization in March 2008.
The Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign is a partnership among the Families of Flight 93, the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission, the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force, the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and many representatives of local, state and national organizations, agencies and interests, as well as people from around the world to build a permanent memorial. Launched in 2005, this public-private partnership is seeking to raise $30 million from philanthropic individuals, corporations and foundations to enable the construction of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
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