'Come out Here and See It'

Article excerpt

The silent, sweeping vistas of Shanksville, Somerset County, convey with their power and solitude why 2,000 acres of land are needed for a permanent memorial to the 40 men and women who died fighting highjackers on Flight 93, says Patrick White.

And anyone doubting that should visit the site, with its 40 miniature wooden crosses and a line of red, white and blue flags that flap in the brisk, Allegheny Mountain breeze, says White, co- chair of the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force and vice president of Families of Flight 93.

"I think that, in order for anyone to understand why that exact amount of land is necessary, they ought to at least come out here and see it," said White, who lost a cousin, Louis J. Nacke II, of New Hope, Bucks County, a Kay-Bee Toys employee who was traveling to San Francisco when the plane went down on Sept. 11, 2001.

The proposed memorial covers the flight path of the doomed airliner and leads to a grove of hemlocks at "sacred ground," where it slammed into the earth at 500 mph. There would be an alley of red and sugar maple trees, a wetlands area and a "Tower of Voices," where 40 wind chimes would speak for the dead.

Last year, White and the memorial committee submitted a plan for the Flight 93 National Memorial to the U.S. Department of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. The committee hopes to get $10 million from the federal government, and President Bush has proposed a first installment of $5 million.

But Bush's request has stalled under U.S. Rep. Charles H. Taylor, R-North Carolina, a subcommittee chairman who balked at the expenditure -- a blow to the Flight 93 families -- but is now reviewing it.

Alice Hoagland, mother of Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham, said the federal government should make funding the site -- and all other 9/11 memorials -- a top priority. It's the least officials can do for the Flight 93 passengers and crew, who are thought to have diverted a suicide mission targeting Washington, D.C., onto an empty field near Shanksville.

Not one person on the ground died in the crash.

"I agree with the idea that building the memorial would be much less expensive than rebuilding the Capitol building," Hoagland said.

Thomas Heidenberger felt the raw power of the Somerset site for the first time yesterday. His wife, Michele, was lead flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 77, which slammed into the Pentagon.

Heidenberger led 27 bicyclists in the "Airline Ride Across America," a tribute to 33 pilots and flight attendants who perished on the four hijacked planes on 9/11.

The 33-day trek began April 2 in Los Angeles. It passed through Somerset yesterday and will head to Ground Zero in New York City before finishing at the Pentagon outside Washington, D. …