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Memory Trail - Slide Show files are large and will take a moment to download.
Jason Kentner, Karen Lewis, E.Lynn Miller, Frederick Steiner

Memory Trail reconciles the design of a memorial honoring those who lost their lives in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2020 with a site left wounded by years of strip-mining. We seek to help heal both the losses of loved ones and the sacred ground where they came to rest. Utilizing the broad expanses of the 2,200-acre site, we are able to present the enormity of the event for history and initiate large-scale remediation efforts that integrate an interpretive program with moments of contemplative solitude.

Our proposal focuses on a journey through a landscape, a memorial experience, taking visitors deep into the site with direct intentions, while still allowing for the insertion of personal meaning and memories. It is through the use of the entire site that the memorial at once allows specific points along the journey to be connected, while still remaining isolated not only by distance but also by shelter both built and living.

The site, like the events it recalls, can be seen in a number of stages, which we highlight through a series of overlooks and plantations. These elements of our memorial expression provide spaces for visitors to develop their own memories, while reflecting on the events of September 11.

Unlike the other events on the fateful morning, the crash of United Flight 93 was largely unwitnessed. With very few people witnessing the event, there is a lack of visual memory. Unlike the World Trade Center Towers, there is no gap in the skyline. Unlike the scar at the Pentagon, there is no building to repair.

What happened in this western Pennsylvania field added meaning to this landscape. It is the crash site that we remember.

Memory Trail is a memorial experience that recalls our memory and celebrates our resilience. Our journey through the landscape is the memorial, what we experience along the way and what we see. We pass through a landscape healing from the abuses of its past. Along the way we remember the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. We remember September 11. We remember ourselves and our loved ones. Could we have mustered the courage of the Flight 93 passengers and crew as they became our first line of defense? Their courage marked the beginning of our own quest for restoration.

Memory Trail honors their journey. At the Gateway, off of U.S. 30, the Lincoln Highway, visitors can park and take a short walk to an overlook. From the Lincoln Highway Overlook, visitors can view almost all of the National Memorial landscape. The one-lane entry road then passes through a loose field of red maples, climbing smoothly to the horizon offering views to the Sacred Ground. Along the way, the visitor passes several lakes and may stop at a small Wetlands Overlook. Here, and elsewhere in the Memorial, these lakes are helping to heal the landscape scarred by years of strip-mining. These lakes will provide important habitat for wildlife, including species of concern such as the Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and the Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata).

After driving through the restored field, Memory Trail turns abruptly, as did Flight 93 on the morning of September 11. Visitors can stop at the Overlook at the Turn to reflect on the events that changed the course of Flight 93.

Below the parking area, a unifying grove of maples surrounds a cluster of lakes. On foot, visitors stop at an overlook with views across the Memorial to Lambert’s Farm then walk to the Visitor Center and Archive. The center rises from the hillside, its interior corridor folding to shift one’s perception of the horizon and frame views of the crash site. From the center, visitors can walk to the Laurel Highlands Overlook at the location of the existing large dragline. This overlook provides views of the Sacred Ground and beyond to the western Pennsylvania landscape.

Memory Trail proceeds around the ridge to the site where the F.B.I. coordinated its investigation. The F.B.I. Overlook provides an opportunity for visitors to leave tributes. From this overlook, visitors can walk to the site of the temporary memorial where the Ambassadors Overlook honors the local citizens who helped preserve this poignant place. As the road approaches the crash site, aligned with the flight path, visitors are diverted in front of Sacred Ground leaving the family members a more intimate trail directly connected to this hallowed ground. While in Sacred Ground, the family path proceeds to a small chapel then through a red maple allée to rejoin visitors.

The trail crosses a lake to the final overlook, the Remembrance Overlook, dedicated to reflection. The trail then weaves around a bowl planted with 3,021 white oaks, initially marked in translucent planting tubes, which glow at night, seen against a background of evergreens. As the trail returns to the ridge top, visitors can stop again at the Visitor Center to view memorabilia left by others and contribute their own.

The exit proceeds along Haul Road through a forest back to U.S. 30. Thus, Memory Trail, a healing landscape, the memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 concludes.

Disturbed Harmony (F)Light Crescent of Embrace Fields, Forests, and Fences Memory Trail
© Copyright 2006. Flight 93 Memorial Project. All Rights Reserved. A solution by Neighborhood America.