New Shanksville memorial remembers 9/11 heroes who died fighting back

The nation will never forget the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that claimed some 3,000 lives and injured over 6,000 others, and now, 17 years later, the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, Penn. has found a new way to pay tribute to those lost — the Tower of Voices.

The new 93-foot-tall memorial pays artistic tribute to the 40 people who were killed aboard United 93 on the most infamous day in recent American history by using an art installation of wind chimes to represent each victim. Each chime in the Tower of Voices is designed to create a slightly different sound when the wind blows, representing the voice of each individual who died on the plane that crashed in Shanksville — 40 regular men and women, not soldiers, who died fighting hijackers to stop them from using their plane as a weapon.

Famously, passenger Todd Beamer, who was speaking to a 9/11 operator during the hijacking, was heard shouting “Let’s roll!” to fellow passengers before they swarmed the cockpit to regain control of the aircraft, which was directed straight at Washington, D.C.

“Chimes of this size and magnitude do not currently exist in the world,” the National Park Service said of the Shanksville Tower of Voices memorial. “The chimes are wind activated and will have internal strikers attached to sails projecting from the bottom of each chime.”

Tragically, the plane crashed into an open field in Shanksville, which is located in Somerset County, Penn., killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard, as they fought for control of the plane. The four hijackers aboard the plane were all also killed. The terrorists’ plot to attack their ultimate target — believed to be the White House — was foiled due to the courage of the passengers and crew.

The passengers of  United 93 learned of the terrorist attacks around the country through their cell phones while their hijacked plane was still flying through the air, and ended up discussing whether to fight back. A vote was taken, and the decision to retaliate was made.

The families of United 93 victims and the National Park Service officially unveiled the new Tower of Voices during a memorial ceremony on Sept. 9.

The United 93 memorial first opened in 2011 and occupies some 2,200 acres of former mining territory. Now, recently planted trees and other plant life are flourishing in the large open field and other flowers, which is located about 70 miles away from Pittsburgh.

A visitor passes the wall of names at the United 93 memorial in Shanksville

A memorial was first opened in 2011 with the victims’ names. More facilities for visitors along with footpaths around the site opened in 2015. The Tower of Voices marks the final phase of development for the memorial. The $6 million project was designed by architect Paul Murdoch.

“There are no other chime structures like this in the world,” The National Park Service says of the new memorial. “The shape and orientation of the tower are designed to optimize airflow through the tower walls to reach the interior chime chamber. The chime system is designed using music theory to identify a mathematically developed range of frequencies needed to produce a distinct musical note associated with each chime. The applied music theory allows the sound produced by individual chimes to be musically compatible with the sound produced by the other chimes in the tower. The intent is to create a set of forty tones (voices) that can connote through consonance the serenity and nobility of the site while also through dissonance recalling the event that consecrated the site.”

Trump’s Shanksville visit and Philly 9/11 memorial service

President Trump will be at the Shanksville memorial for the 17th anniversary of 9/11, the first to incorporate the ringing of the new wind-chimes in the Tower of Voices. Trump will deliver remarks, along with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zink.

The 17th 9/11 memorial observance at the United 93 memorial will be live-streamed at 9:45 a.m. on

In Philadelphia, city officials will honor the anniversary of 9/11 with a procession in Old City and ceremony at the Betsy Ross House.

The procession will depart at 9:59 a.m. from Fireman’s Hall Museum at 147 N. 2nd St. and arrive a few minutes later at the Betsy Ross House at 239 Arch St. 

Mayor Jim Kenney, the Philadelphia Flag Day Association, Philly police, firefighters, prisons department officials and the Philadelphia Police & Fire Pipes and Drums will all be in attendance for the ceremony.

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