The Pearl Harbor and Flight 93 Memorials

The hulk of the battleship Arizona, sunk in a surprise attack by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Over 1000 sailors are still entombed there. Thousands of miles away, in the middle of a large non-descript field near Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001, Flight 93 was brought down in a struggle between Islamic terrorists and passengers. All 44 on board die. The crash may have prevented many more deaths on the ground if the plane had made its way to Washington, DC.

Flight 93

It has been over sixty years since the attack on Pearl Harbor and there have been many years in which to construct a formal memorial. Before embarking on the ferry that takes visitors to the memorial sitting a stride the frame of the Arizona, guests can visit a museum. The museum tells the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor and of some of the individual sailors who died. With the distance of sixty years, there is little animus toward the Japanese. Indeed, many Japanese visit the site.

The formal memorial for the victims on Flight 93 is awaiting construction. Getting to the site requires travel on small Pennsylvania roads, but one can tell one is nearing the site by the increase in the density of already ubiquitous American flags adorning homes and businesses.Presently, there is only a small parking lot that can accommodate perhaps 10 cars. There are a couple of small professionally made memorial stones. One lists all the victims killed. However, the eye is drawn to a temporary 2-meter high 5-meter long fence. To the fence visitors attach small flags, mementos, little placards of thanks, wishes for the families of the deceased, and bible verses.In many ways, the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the crash site of Flight 93 are very similar. Not many people travel to Hawaii just to visit the Arizona Memorial or travel to Pennsylvania just to see the site of the crash. However, people seem to gravitate there. They come clad in their shorts, T-shirts, and baseball caps. Despite the informality of their dress, people instinctively quiet down. No one needs to remind them. They realize they are in a sacred place deserving of respect and show it. People wander quietly around.

Flight 93 Marker

If you are afforded the opportunity, take the time to visit both sites. Over both, an American flag stands proudly above atop a flagpole. The sound of the flag fluttering in the wind masks the quiet whispers between visitors. Even more eerily, the clanking of the clasp of the rope used to raise the flag against the metal flagpole maintains a rhythmic cadence as a vigil for those who have died.

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