One might think that incorporating a visit to a somber site while on a fun road trip might be counter-intuitive, but I think it’s of utmost importance.
On our recent baseball trip to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, we took a side trip somewhat out of our way in order to visit the Flight 93 Memorial site in Shanksville, PA. To say that this site is literally “in the middle of nowhere” is not an exaggeration. It is a beautiful place of rolling green hills in the Allegheny Mountains off the main interstate between Philly and Pittsburgh.
The weather was somber — dark clouds with some rain and plenty of lightning — as we walked the vast space. The memorial is under the auspices of the U.S. National Park Service. The design of the site allows visitors to view the crash site from a flat ridge above the area. One can also drive to the site and walk the length of the debris field, some quarter of a mile long. There is one long wall displaying the names of each victim. Their stories are also available elsewhere at the site.
Of the four hijacked flights, Flight 93 will forever be the most personal. It is widely thought the flight was on a path to either the Capitol building or White House. The hubby and I had entered the U.S. Capitol that morning just after 9am, and were hastily evacuated not long after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. So in my heart of hearts, I will forever owe the heroes of that downed Flight 93 for saving countless lives while sacrificing their own.
The next day while in Pittsburgh, we went to Tree of Life Synagogue. We attempted to meet with the Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, but regrettably the timing did not work out. We were at least able to see the synagogue, which is closed, and that somehow provided a connection to the community. Evidence of the “Stronger Together” message was seen all around the area.
My “Snippet from the Road” is this: take some time out of your travels and pay tribute to the fallen. Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma City Memorial, Valley Forge, 9/11 Memorial and sadly many more. My sense of gratitude has only increased after these visits.