FBI agents who dug clues from the wreckage of Flight 93 and workers in the U.S. Capitol who owe their lives to the passengers and crew who died battling terrorists for control of the airliner will be among those to tell their 9/11 stories this weekend at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.
That observance is among a number regionwide to commemorate the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor those who fought back or died responding.
United Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked by four terrorists. The 9/11 Commission said the terrorists likely wanted to crash the plane into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, but the jet went down in a field near Shanksville as 40 passengers and crew fought back.
The first phase of the Flight 93 National Memorial was finished last year. Mike Litterst, a National Park Service spokesman, said $32 million has now been collected for enhancements that will include a visitor's center for educational programs.
Educational events Saturday and Sunday will be held on a tented site where work on the visitor's center will begin next year. Memorial observances will continue on Monday and on the actual anniversary Tuesday.
On Saturday there will be a 1 p.m. panel on how children experienced 9/11, focusing on ways they expressed it through art. The 3 p.m. panel will include journalists who covered the Shanksville crash and the revelations of heroism.
On Sunday FBI agents who combed and analyzed the wreckage will speak on the 1 p.m. panel. At 3 p.m. employees from the U.S. Capitol will express their gratitude to the Flight 93 passengers and crew who may have saved their lives. On both days rangers and volunteers will speak about Flight 93 in the Memorial Plaza at the top of each hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tribute events will be held in the plaza on the half hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will tour the memorial privately Monday. That night at 7:30, 40 luminaria will be lit along the Wall of Names.
A memorial program begins Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. At 10:03, the exact time that Flight 93 crashed, family members and first responders will begin to read the names of the passengers and crew. Backpacks and large bags are not permitted at the memorial on the anniversary date. Every hour on the hour from noon to 4 p.m. rangers and volunteers will tell the story of Flight 93 in the Memorial Plaza. Every half hour from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. tribute events, including musical performances and wreath-laying, will be held in the Memorial Plaza.
Elsewhere, an annual 9/11 vigil held at the "Inspiration" mural at the corner of Heister Street and College Avenue in State College will begin at 12:15 p.m. Monday. This year's vigil is sponsored by the Council for Hope and Healing, a group that formed in the wake of the Penn State University sex abuse scandal to inspire individuals to take action if they suspect a child is being abused.
The vigil will open with a message from New York City firefighters, the survivors and successors of those who perished at the World Trade Center. Featured speakers include Penn State board member Ryan McCombie, who will speak about the line-of-duty death of his son Thomas, a Navy SEAL whose image is included in the "Inspiration" mural.
The observance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, with a moment of silence at 8:46, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. The memorial will be held at a 13-foot remnant from the World Trade Center, in the Oak Grove between Sutton Hall and Stapleton Library. The school lost three alumni -- William Moskal, Donald Jones and William Sugra -- in the attack on the World Trade Center.
In Pittsburgh on Tuesday the Global Peace Building Foundation will combine a 9/11 memorial with its announcement of peace-building grants for the coming year at a 6 p.m. event in the Allegheny HYP Club, 619 William Penn Place, Downtown. The Global Peace Building Foundation was founded Sept. 11, 2010, to help young people worldwide overcome prejudices and hatred through youth sports and the arts. The main speaker will be Rory O'Neil, who runs a youth basketball program in Northern Ireland. The event is free but RSVP is required by Saturday to 412-563-1905 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company will dedicate a 9/11 memorial monument Tuesday at 7 p.m. at its Park Station on Route 19. The memorial consists of a small replica of the World Trade Center. It includes an 822-pound twisted beam from ground zero and a granite marker with a timeline of the 9/11 events.
Ann Rodgers: email@example.com or 412-263-1416.