The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 8, 2013

Flight 93 memorial events set

Dave Sutor

SHANKSVILLE — The Flight 93 National Memorial often has been described as serene, mournful, uplifting ... and incomplete.

But part of that description is expected to change soon.

On Tuesday, the groundbreaking ceremony for a visitor center and separate learning center is scheduled to take place, beginning at 3 p.m.

They will become the newest additions to the site that already includes the Wall of Names, which lists the 40 passengers and crew members who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into the Somerset County field during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The National Park Service will use the centers to stage exhibits and provide visitors with information.

“Our last few years have been a challenge because the memorial is not completed,” said Jeff Reinbold, the site’s manager. “The visitors want to learn more. ... Once the facility is completed, we’ll be able to tell the story more completely.”

Gordon Felt, the Families of Flight 93 president, added, “We’re thrilled that we’re one step closer to completion.”

The groundbreaking will be one of several events taking place at the site on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Interpretive programs are scheduled for both days, weather permitting. A luminaria display is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the crash, a remembrance ceremony is set for 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.

Six members of the USS Somerset are scheduled to attend. Their San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock is a tribute to the county where the plane crashed after passengers fought back against al-Qaida hijackers, who likely intended to slam the aircraft into a target in Washington, D.C.

The USS Somerset is scheduled to be commissioned in Philadelphia early next year.

“I think it’s a testament to the crew members and their involvement with the county,” said Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk. “It’s nice to know that they’re interested in coming up here.”

Other Sept. 11 ceremonies are planned in the region, including an event at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s World Trade Center monument. Activities will include a remembrance of the three IUP graduates who died in the attacks on New York City: William Moskal, Donald Jones and William Sugra.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at