An everlasting concert

  • Sept-11-Anniversary-Pennsylvania

    The Tower of Voices Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., on Monday.


  • Seventeen years have passed since Flight 93 crashed in Stonycreek Township, Pa., during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The 40 crew and passengers who lost their lives that day have been remembered in the public conscious for their extraordinary heroism, as their attempts to regain control of the plane from its hijackers prevented the plane from reaching its likely destination in Washington.

    This past Sunday, friends and family members of the Flight 93 victims gathered at the crash site to dedicate the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot-tall concrete tower that will hold 40 wind-activated chimes. Each chime has a unique tone to represent the individual voice of a passenger or crew member. The memorial has been described as the world’s largest musical instrument.

    Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who was in office on 9/‚Äč11, celebrated the memorial as “an everlasting concert by our heroes under the skies.”

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    During Tuesday’s annual remembrance at the memorial, President Donald Trump echoed Mr. Ridge’s remarks, saying that the passengers of Flight 93 “boarded the plane as strangers, and they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes.”

    Building a structure that adequately memorializes the lives and extraordinary actions of the 40 passengers who lost their lives on Flight 93 was surely a daunting task. Capturing both the tragedy of the incident and the heroism of the passengers, while offering visitors a serene place to think and reflect, would require a truly special construction.

    Fortunately, the Tower of Voices, designed by architect Paul Murdoch and selected from a pool of more than 1,100 applications, is exactly the kind of tribute the victims deserve. The chimes highlight the individuals whose lives were lost while the imposing concrete tower presents a powerful display of unity. Together, they give the Tower of Voices a unique poignance and nobility.

    “These chimes respond to unanswered cries of voices not spoken again, but remembered in the vibrations of a monumental tower,” Mr. Murdoch said.

    And, as the first thing visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial see upon arriving, the Tower of Voices offers an important reminder of the sacrifice rendered by the crew and passengers, who chose to stand up to evil and saved the lives of countless others in the process.

    “It’s not just an emotional memorial for those of us who have lived through it, especially those who lost ones,” Mr. Murdoch said recently, “but something that needs to be here to tell the story of what happened.”

    The Flight 93 site is the most remote of the Sept. 11 memorials, and yet it already has more than 300,000 visitors each year. With the opening of the Tower of Voices, more people should make the time to travel to this sacred ground and reflect on the remarkable courage of 40 fallen American heroes.