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Days Before Sept. 11, Memorial To Flight 93 Dedicated In Shanksville


Tomorrow will mark 17 years since hijackers crashed two jets into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth, Flight 93, in a field near Shanksville, Pa. There's a memorial to Flight 93 there in Shanksville, and yesterday the last element was put in place. It is called the Tower of Voices. Katie Meyer of member station WITF was there for the dedication.

KATIE MEYER, BYLINE: On the day the Tower of Voices is dedicated, it's bucketing rain. The rolling hills of Flight 93 Memorial Park are muddy, and the paths that radiate out from the visitors' center are mostly deserted. The park's newest and last feature, the Tower of Voices, stands out starkly against the clouds, 93 feet high. Inside a tent, family members of those who died on Flight 93 are gathered. Seventeen years ago, they were strangers. Now they're old friends.

DEBBIE BORZA: When we come to this anniversary, to this dedication, and we get to see people we haven't seen for a year, three years, five years - time doesn't seem to matter there.

MEYER: Debbie Borza lost her 20-year-old daughter on Flight 93. Deora Bodley was the youngest person killed in the crash. And Borza says since then, getting the memorial made has given her direction.

BORZA: Seventeen years - you know, my daughter would be 37. It's as if it were yesterday.

MEYER: Architect Paul Murdoch has overseen the design of the park since 2005. Murdoch says the Tower of Voices was the most ambitious part of the memorial. But just a few weeks before the dedication, he got word most of the massive chimes wouldn't be done in time. Eight of them are in place. Eventually there will be 40, one for each of the people lost. He says it'll create a visceral experience.

PAUL MURDOCH: It's all about remembering. And, I mean, this is what a memorial needs to do. A memorial needs to stay alive in a very personal way for people.

MEYER: And as the rain poured down at the dedication ceremony, Murdoch, family members, friends and volunteers walked up the hill to ring the chimes publicly for the first time.


MEYER: Lori Guadagno stayed in the rain a little longer to take it in. Her brother, Richard, was killed on Flight 93. He was a biologist who loved being outdoors, and Guadagno says this feels like a perfect tribute.

LORI GUADAGNO: Knowing that the sound of their voices is always going to be echoing here - I mean, the wind did it for me from the first time I was here because it's ever-present. I always heard it. It was always a part of this site. But to have it put into this - these beautiful sounds that will radiate forever, it's breathtaking.

MEYER: Gordie Felt, who heads the organization Families of Flight 93, lost his oldest brother, Edward, in the crash. He says the memorial feels personal to everyone who's helped make it.

GORDIE FELT: Family members that lost loved ones, neighbors that had a plane come down in their backyard, you know, were involved in that process of creating this memorial.

MEYER: And he says the Tower of Voices brings completion of sorts.

FELT: We committed ourselves to honor our loved ones. And we've done it.

MEYER: The park service has a simulation of what the chimes will sound like when they're all in place, something like this.


MEYER: For NPR News, I'm Katie Meyer in Somerset County, Pa.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELUVIUM'S "WEIRD CREATURES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Katie Meyer is WITF’s Capitol bureau chief, and she covers all things state politics for public radio stations throughout Pennsylvania. Katie came to Harrisburg by way of New York City, where she worked at Fordham University’s public radio station, WFUV, as an anchor, general assignment reporter, and co-host of an original podcast. A 2016 graduate of Fordham, she won several awards for her work at WFUV, including four 2016 Gracies. Katie is a native New Yorker, though she originally hails from Troy, a little farther up the Hudson River. She can attest that the bagels are still pretty good there.