On the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States came under attack when four commercial airliners were hijacked and used to strike targets on the ground. Nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives. Due to the actions of the 40 passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93, headed for the U.S. Capital, one attack was thwarted. The flight was only 20 minutes away from the nation's capital when the passengers and crew of the plane rushed the cockpit in an effort to overpower the hijackers. Flight 93 crashed in a field outside the rural town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. To honor the actions of the passengers and crew, the 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial was created to protect their final resting place and share their story of courage and hope.
Since Congress first authorized its development in 2002, much progress has been made on the Memorial. An international competition was conducted to choose the design for the permanent memorial, with over 1,000 entries submitted. After a two stage competition, a design from Paul Murdoch Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects was selected. The first features of the Memorial were dedicated on September 10, 2011 with work still continuing on the remainder of the project. A 3.5 mile scenic drive leads visitors from the entrance to the Memorial Plaza at the crash site where visitors may view panels in an outdoor exhibit area, overlook the field where Flight 93 crashed and walk along the Wall of Names, consisting of forty inscribed white marble panels. A black granite walkway marks a portion of the flight path and at the wooden Ceremonial Gate, visitors can look down the flight path to the impact site.
"Timeless in simplicity and beauty, like its landscape, both stark and serene, the Memorial should be quiet in reverence, yet powerful in form, a place both solemn and uplifting," stated Paul Murdoch, Architect with Paul Murdoch Architects (PMA).
To reach the Memorial Plaza located at the crash site, a pedestrian bridge was needed to allow visitors dry passage over the wetlands area. During the development phase of the project, PMA contacted Contech Engineered Solutions for input regarding the concept and feasibility of fabricating a horizontally curved bridge. As a solution, a 800' x 10' multi-span, Connector®-style, Continental® truss bridge with a horizontally curved alignment, weathered steel finish and concrete deck was installed in just three days. Benches will be placed along the length of the bridge to provide visitors with further opportunities for reflection while overlooking the changing views of the wetlands habitat.
To date, over 60,000 tributes have been left at the Memorial. The Memorial is scheduled to be officially dedicated in September 2015.