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Sacred Land: Families of those aboard Flight 93, the community of Shanksville and others have resolved to see the National Memorial come to life

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Longtime Somerset County residents Glessner and Shaffer were involved in the effort from day one. Shaffer was a nurse in a Somerset County medical practice and a member of the local school board. Glessner, who had worked in the county planning office before raising her family, was a local 4-H leader and active in her family’s lumber yard and hardware store.

Upon learning that the loud boom that rocked his house and briefly cut power that morning was caused by a plane crash along nearby Lambertsville Road, Glessner called Shaffer at the doctor’s office.

Her husband, Terry Shaffer, was the chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department. Glessner told his sister she had to call him at work.

“Tell Terry he has to come home now,” Shaffer said, recounting his sister’s urgent message which sounded more like an order than a request.

By the time she reached her husband, he was already heading to the site.

Over the next 13 days, the city’s 245-person fire hall would serve as a buzzing hub of the recovery effort. Volunteers processed food and supplies that poured in from their neighbors and communities and businesses miles away. They began providing meals and supplies to hundreds of salvage workers and federal, state and local law enforcement – even before the Red Cross arrived.

Weeks later, visitors began to arrive. They braved the freezing winter winds to visit the crash site along a secluded country road. Glessner, who had seen confused visitors wandering around, organized local residents to staff the fenced lot and tell the story.

This group formed the core of Flight 93 Ambassadors. The group of 40 to 50 volunteers are still working with the National Park Service at the memorial.

Adam Shaffer, park ranger for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township, is seen on June 8, 2021 at Memorial Plaza, the final resting place for Flight 93’s crew and passengers.

Glessner then served on the Federal Advisory Board for Flight 93. The 15 members of the board, including the families of Flight 93, community residents and key memorial development experts, have met quarterly for over ‘a decade.

Their goal: to select and build a design for the memorial to preserve the feeling that Los Angeles firefighter Stephen Ruda first wrote on a quilt sent to Shanksville. His commentary, inscribed along the footbridge of the flight path at the memorial, reads: “A common field one day, a field of honor forever.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to be able to tell this story of the passengers and crew by the people who knew her best.”

– Adam Shaffer

Still later, Glessner and Shaffer conducted oral history interviews with community responders, first responders, Flight 93 family members and others. In all, there are 888 first-person accounts of events surrounding this day. The sisters are still working on the final cut, painstakingly comparing the recordings of the oral histories with copies now transcribed and archived with the National Park Service.

They were two of many of their neighbors who stepped forward to help.

“I don’t think it’s just Shanksville. I think in any small community people would have been caring and compassionate, ”Shaffer said.

His son Adam was a freshman at university on September 11, 2001. He had volunteered with the firefighters as a teenager, had a deep interest in American history, and had completed a wrap-up project in Gettysburg while he was a teenager. ‘he was a high school student.

Despite his parents’ concerns, he would come home every fall weekend to help with recovery and learn all he could about Flight 93. After graduation he did. an internship at the Park Service on the site of flight 93 where the memorial was still in development. He later became a park warden on the site.

Today, Adam Shaffer is the Chief of the Interpretive Rangers at the National Flight 93 Memorial.

He remembers the emotion that rose in his chest when he arrived home that first weekend. Flags lined all the roads. There were more volunteers than could be counted.

Like his mother and aunt, Shaffer is reluctant to talk about him.

” I’m lucky. I have a perspective, “he said.” The real story is what happened in the sky above here.… We are incredibly lucky to be able to tell this story of the passengers and the crew by the people who knew her best. I think the partnerships played a big role in building that. ”

Today, its goal is to ensure that history is passed on in the future.



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