SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA—Although Gordon Felt has racked up thousands of kilometers on the road over the last 14 years, travelling between his home in upstate New York and rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania, he said he has traveled a greater distance searching for healing.
The passage of time hasn’t made it any easier for him to be here.
“It doesn’t ease our pain. But it helps,” said Felt.
Fourteen years ago, there was chaos and horror in this field, when a hijacked Boeing 757 out of Newark, New Jersey headed for San Francisco plummeted to the ground.
A federal investigation into the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 at the edge of a forest near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, lasted weeks beyond September 11, 2001.
It ultimately yielded information that the men and women who boarded the plane on that sunny, clear morning became heroes in the skies somewhere over Pennsylvania as they tried to reclaim the cockpit from the terrorists who hijacked the plane.
Gordon Felt’s brother Edward was one of the passengers.
Although the outcome of their actions remains a personal tragedy for Felt, the collective story of the passengers is at the center of a defining moment in American history.
“It is surreal at times,” Felt said while peering through a window toward the field. “Early on, it became evident to us very quickly that our loved ones … that the events surrounding their deaths, had historical significance to our country.”
The last 30 minutes of Edward Felt’s life and those of the 39 others on the plane with him, is now explained through artifacts and interactive displays in the new Flight 93 National Memorial Visitors Center, situated on a hilltop above the field where the plane’s journey ended.
In displays using facts and information pieced together in the subsequent investigation, family members of those lost on 9/11 hope visitors will understand the full impact of the actions of their loved ones.
“They’ll get a sense of who those 40 heroes were,” said Felt, “as well as what their collective actions did to help save the Capitol building that morning.”