SOMERSET -- Half a million people will have visited the Flight 93 national memorial near Shanksville by Thanksgiving, U.S. Parks Service Ranger Barbara Black said today.
Ms. Black provided that statistic during her update on National Park Service operations at the Sept. 11 commemorative site to members of the Flight 93 advisory commission.
That number represents a large jump in visits since the dedication of the site on Sept. 11, 2011, as a national memorial.
The field in Somerset County where United Flight 93 crashed became a place of pilgrimage within weeks of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The national memorial commemorates efforts the 40 passengers and crew members to gain control of the aircraft. Their actions are believed to have thwarted the terrorists' attempt to crash the plane into the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C.
More than 300,000 people have visited the memorial so far this year, Ms. Black said. That number is 25 percent higher than the 238,000 who visited during the same period in 2011.
A total of 500,000 people are projected to come to the memorial by the end of this month.
"This is to a partially completed memorial," memorial Supt. Jeff Reinbold said.
Construction of a permanent visitors center and a flight-path walkway is to begin next spring, he said. Work should be completed by September 2014 for the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159.