The money has been raised; the memorial will rise.
Twelve years after United Flight 93 crashed into a meadow near Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001, the $40 million capital campaign has been fully funded.
“We thank and applaud the thousands of individuals and organizations that have helped us reach this profound moment,” Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, said in a statement.
“It is only through their support and generosity that the Foundation is able to protect, enrich and honor the Flight 93 National Memorial, and all of our country’s more than 400 national parks.” The National Park Foundation is the official charity for the national parks.
The memorial that honors the 40 passengers and crew who lost their lives on Flight 93 is planned for completion in 2015. The money has already made possible the construction of the park’s Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, 40 Memorial Groves, Field of Honor, and major reforestation of the landscape.
The final phase of construction will be a visitor center and the symbolic Tower of Voices with 40 wind chimes, each representing a person lost in the crash. A groundbreaking ceremony for the visitor complex will take place on Tuesday.
The massive fundraising effort that included former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, along with Speaker of the House John Boehner, resulted in private contributions from 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations.
Additional funds came from public financing. Ongoing operational support will continue through the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial.
More than 2 million people have already visited the site, notes Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93. The 49-year-old lost his brother, Edward Felt, who was 41, in the crash.
“That gives me hope that the loss of our loved ones meant something,” Felt told Yahoo News on the phone from the memorial site. “People remember and continue to be inspired by their actions,” he added.
En route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., the plane was the fourth to go down on Sept. 11. Thanks to the actions of those onboard, the flight crashed before hijackers would have likely targeted the D.C. area for a terrorist attack.
George W. Bush signed the Flight 93 Memorial Act into law in 2002, creating a new national park to commemorate the crew and passengers of the flight.
Paul Murdoch’s design includes 2,200 acres. Visitors can follow a black granite walkway along the flight path that looks down on the crash site, and view slabs of white marble inscribed with the names of the 40 victims. The area is surrounded by 40 groves of trees planted by hundreds of volunteers.
“To see this memorial grow and come alive from the ground up is an amazing experience,” Felt said.