WASHINGTON — The heroic struggle by airline passengers who thwarted a terrorist attack on the nation’s capital on Sept. 11, 2001, will be commemorated in a 2,000-acre memorial site that includes a chapel with metallic wind chimes.
The “Crescent of Embrace” memorial, created by a team of designers led by Paul Murdoch Architects of Los Angeles, was chosen Wednesday by the Flight 93 Advisory Commission. The aim of the one-year competition was to honor the 40 passengers and crew who died after their plane was hijacked and crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
The chapel, featuring 40 chimes symbolizing each of the victims, will stand at the entryway to the vast park.
“The idea is, as the wind continues through the site, there will be sounds generated that will act as a living memory to those who died,” Murdoch said.
The memorial in Shanksville, Pa., will also include pedestrian trails and a roadway leading to a visitor center and the actual crash site, which will be surrounded by a crescent of maple trees. The victims’ names will be inscribed on a white marble wall.
The winning design was warmly received by more than 50 friends and relatives of the flight victims. They cheered and gave a standing ovation to the design, which was chosen from five finalists.
“It was very important for me for the area to retain its simplicity,” said Christine Fraser, 53, of Elizabeth, N.J., whose roommate, Colleen L. Fraser, 51, died in the crash.
Flight 93 was en route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., when it was hijacked. With the words “Let’s roll,” passengers rushed down the airliner’s narrow aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers.
The Sept. 11 commission report concluded the hijackers crashed the plane — believed to be headed toward either the White House or the U.S. Capitol — as passengers tried to take control of the cockpit. It was the only one of four hijacked planes that day that did not take a life on the ground.
‘Sanctity of the site’ paramount
“The design did a good job of incorporating the landscape,” said Calvin Wilson of Herndon, Va., whose brother LeRoy Homer Jr. was a co-pilot on the plane. “It was important for us to not disturb the sanctity of the site. It really harnesses the spirit of our 40 heroes.”
A 15-member jury made up of family members, community members and design professionals was tasked with making a final recommendation on the design. Five finalists were selected from 1,011 designs.
Murdoch’s design still must get the approval of the director of the National Park Service and the secretary of the interior.
Ridge, Franks take the helm
By unveiling the design in Washington, organizers hope to garner more publicity for their campaign to raise $30 million in private money for the project. The fund-raising campaign is being co-chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who was the first homeland security secretary, and retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who oversaw operations in Afghanistan and Iraq after the terrorist attacks.
The state of Pennsylvania has already donated more than $10 million for the memorial. A projected date for the opening has not been set.
Since the crash, more than 130,000 people annually have visited a temporary memorial.
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