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Memories Of Those Lost On Flight 93 Reverberate From The Tower Of Voices

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Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
The Tower of Voices stands at the entrance of the Flight 93 national memorial.

On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes with plans to strike prominent American buildings and cause mass casualties. They succeeded in hitting three of their intended targets.

Cockpit recordings later revealed that the 40 passengers and crew members on the final commercial plane — United Flight 93 — fought back against the four terrorists. They prevented the hijackers from hitting their final target, the U.S. Capitol building. Instead, the plane crashed upside-down in a field just outside of Shanksville, Pa.

A park memorializing those 40 people now lives on the grounds where the plane crash-landed.

Its centerpiece is the Tower of Voices. The 93-foot concrete structure welcomes visitors as they enter the park off of Route 30 in Stoystown, Pa. Pillars contain 40 aluminum wind chimes, some 10 feet long, to represent the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

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Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA

Winds must reach 15 miles per hour to activate the striker and make the chimes sing. Paul Murdoch, the architect of the park and president of Murdoch Architects, said he and park management are investigating how to make the chimes less wind-resistant, enabling visitors to hear them more often.

But when visitors do get the chance to hear the tower, the tones are unlike the glittery tinkle of backyard wind chimes. Somber vibrations clang with soft dissonance, creating an environment that begs the visitor to reflect on the actions of that day.

Hear from the families of Flight 93 victims and the Flight 93 memorial park architect and superintendent as they contemplate what the Tower of Voices signifies 20 years after the crash.

Speaking in this audio postcard are:

  • Deborah Borza, whose daughter Deora Bodley was on Flight 93
  • Gordon Felt, president of the group Families of Flight 93. His brother Edward Felt was on Flight 93
  • Paul Murdoch, president of Murdoch Architects and designer of the Flight 93 National Memorial
  • Stephen Clark, Flight 93 National Memorial park superintendent

Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Kamala Harris will attend the 20th annual Sept.11 observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Saturday. The private event will be livestreamed on the park’s Facebook page.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.