Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County next week as the nation prepares to remember the victims of 9/11 on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the National Park Service said Tuesday.
Panetta will take a private tour of the memorial Monday, a day before the Sept. 11 anniversary. He will then speak briefly to reporters, the park service said.
Patrick White, the president of a group representing victims’ families, Families of Flight 93, said in a statement that they are deeply grateful for Panetta’s visit and that it underscores the need to complete the memorial for the 40 passengers and crew members.
“The heroic actions of the Flight 93 passengers and crew members strengthened America,” White said. “Secretary Panetta’s visit underscores their remarkable, patriotic contribution to this nation, as well as the need to complete the memorial.”
The first phase of the project, which includes a memorial plaza and a wall of names, cost $30 million and was finished last year.
Mike Litterst, a park service spokesman, said $32 million in public and private money is on hand to complete the
second phase, including approaches, walkways and a visitors’ center. Work is to begin next year and conclude in 2014, he said.
A third phase, which would cost
$5 million, will include a 93-foot tower at the entrance with 40 wind chimes.
United Airlines 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 passengers fought back.
Panetta’s visit is one of many planned at the memorial over the 11th anniversary weekend.
A series of panel discussions will explore the events of Sept. 11, 2001, from several perspectives. Discussions will include children who experienced the event, media coverage of the crash, the FBI’s Flight 93 investigation, and recovery teams and those who were in the Capitol that day.
The discussions, “Learning Center Without Walls,” will be held at 1 and
3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Interpretive programs will be presented every hour from 11 a.m. to
4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday. Park rangers and volunteers will provide a general introduction to the events, actions and people related to the story of Flight 93 and the national memorial.
Monday’s events will include a luminaria program in which 40 candle lanterns will be placed at the Wall of Names. The program will run from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s observance will begin at 9:45 a.m. at the Memorial Plaza.
At 10:03 a.m. – the moment Flight 93 crashed – the names of the passengers and crew members will be read and Bells of Remembrance will be rung by members of the Families of
Flight 93 and community members who assisted in the aftermath of 9/11. The ceremony also will include a wreath laying at the Wall of Names.
The public is invited to attend.
No backpacks or large bags are permitted. There will be no seating available for the ceremony, expected to last about 30 minutes, although guests are permitted to bring their own chairs.
Tribute events will continue from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. There will be wreath-laying ceremonies, musical performances and other events in honor of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. They will be conducted by individuals and private organizations and will be held each hour.
For more information, go to www.nps.gov/flni.
Remembering Sept. 11, 2001
Flight 93 National Memorial hours for Sept. 11 weekend:
Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The last entry will be at 9 p.m.