- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 9, 2002

A Pennsylvania congressman yesterday vowed to push to designate as a national park the area where United Airlines Flight 93 went down in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., on September 11, killing 40 passengers and crew and the plane's four hijackers.

"The people on Flight 93 were courageous and heroic in giving their lives to bring down that airplane before it could reach its intended target in our nation's capital," said Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, who introduced legislation for the designation.

"I think it is quite clear that the crash site has national, historical significance. It is the first site in America where citizens successfully fought back and stopped terrorism."

While an official memorial is still years away, families, Pennsylvania residents and officials welcomed the first step toward a national park designation.

"It's headed in the right direction," Betty Kremmerer of New Jersey said of the initiative. Her mother, Hilda Marcin, died on Flight 93. Mrs. Kremmerer said she also welcomed the newly created Flight 93 memorial logo and the official memorial Web site, www.flt93memorial.org, which goes online Monday.

On that day, the nation will mourn the thousands who died on September 11 in ceremonies in Virginia, the District and New York City.

In Shanksville, a no-stoplight town a mile away from the crash site, a church bell will peal 40 times before a memorial service begins with a moment of silence.

"Let us always remember their courage and readiness to defend themselves and others unselfishly," said Susan Hankinson, coordinator of the Flight 93 remembrance. "They are forever linked to Shanksville. It is our responsibility to live up to their inspiration and memory and act with the same purpose and dignity."

In Shanksville, residents tend the impromptu memorial site on a hill overlooking the crash area. A curator continues to collect for preservation the flags, notes and teddy bears left by the endless stream of visitors to honor the victims. Residents still talk about the victims as if they were family and with the families themselves almost daily.

"The town has been great," said Mrs. Kremmerer. "They have made sure to keep me included. I have almost daily contact with [Somerset County Coroner] Wally [Miller] and [Shanksville postmistress and resident] Judy [Baeckel].

"They have done so much," said Jerry Bingham of the impromptu memorials being tended by residents. "It showed me that everyone cared." Mr. Bingham often visits the site where his son, Mark Bingham, 31, died.

Now the families of the victims of Flight 93 say they want a place where they can go to mourn privately.

"We are going to do it so it's done right the first time," said Shanksville Mayor Ernest Stull.

"The crash site doesn't just belong to us," said Barbara Black, curator for the Somerset Historical Center and a Shanksville resident. "It is a place that lends itself to being able to feel what happened here."


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