Jeannie and I went to Shanksville, PA on Saturday (while the guys were skiing) to see the place where United Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. I don't think either of us knew what to expect, but it was a powerful place. It was really in the middle of no where, within a small unknown town. Their lives, our lives, were changed forever.
It was so windy there. We couldn't help but think it may be the Holy Spirit rushing around us. There weren't too many people there while we were, but you could tell it was well traveled territory. It felt only appropriate to stand in silence, or whisper. There was a lady in a small building telling us all she knew of the events and such. There were pictures of those on the plane, a transcript of the voice recorder and a book to sign your name in. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be to be there. Reading the words the terrorists spoke, praising the name of allah...it made me cringe. Seeing the faces of those who died, broke my heart.
The actual crash site was about 1/4 of a mile away from the memorial site. It was fenced off, with an American flag hung on the fence. You could see a huge pile of dirt, covered in snow. The crash site is under 24 hour surveillance and it restricted to all public. Only family members are allowed out there. Rightly so, that's sacred ground.
When the plane hit the ground, it made a 15 feet hole. Rescuers had to dig 25 more feet to find remains of the plane and people. The largest piece of debris they found was a section of the plane, just two windows wide. The coroner was able to give each family something, even it was just evidence of DNA. We found out that the plane was seconds away from hitting the school a few miles away. People found papers from the plane eight miles away. This was all new information to me. Even now, five and a half years later, it still hurts to hear.
Jeannie and I were talking and she really drove it home when she asked, I wonder what they were thinking? Looking out the window, not knowing where they were, but knowing that this is where they were going to die? I don't know. They were brave souls, indeed. We couldn't stop thinking about it. We talked about the events and how people must have felt. Being at this memorial really changed the way I viewed the events of September 11th. It was as if they became more real, more tangible, more close to home.