9/11 Memorial

Our Washington DC Adventure – Day 10

We had very much enjoyed our adventure at HersheyPark.  It was now time to head home.  Part of our group was driving to Iowa, while the part was flying to Utah.  The flight was out of Pittsburgh and not wanting to waste a day, we decided to visit the Pennsylvania state capitol, in Harrisburg. First we needed to load the Suburban. Before the trip our son-in-law was supposed to drop off aluminum cans at the recycling center…he forgot and we discovered them when we got ready to load the roof top storage.

With our can dilemma solved, we headed to Harrisburg.

Across the street, there was information about the capitol.  In 1810, Harrisburg was chosen as the new state capitol.  The original capitol building known as the the Colonial or “Redbrick” capitol was destroyed by fire in 1897.  After a new building was started and then deemed unattractive, a design by John Huston was chosen.  Work was started in 1904 with the dedication in October 1906, with President Theodore Roosevelt in attendance.

The sculptures to each side of the front door, were created by George Clay Barnard.  27 figures are represented in the two group sculptures.  The left represents Labor and Love, depicting humanity through work and brotherhood. While the right is The Burden of Life, which portrays lives of degradation and spiritual burden.  Pretty intense thought behind the statues.

The building is on the National Historic Register.

The bronze front doors each weigh a ton, but can easily swing open.  They contain intricate cravings.

Once inside, you are met by 400 Moravian Tiles.  They illustrate the state’s history, animals, industries, occupations, and transportation.  They were made in a German folk art design.

The rotunda is lit with 4000 lights and 48 portholes at the top of the dome.  It also contains 8 large murals.

Being a Sunday, we had to stay in the rotunda area, but it was very impressive.

We love state capitols and have visited 42 of the 50, so with the capitol marked off, we headed for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  This is a 360 mile toll road that crosses the state.  It was completed in 1956, connecting Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.  It was designed to improve automobile transportation across the mountains of Pennsylvania.  It uses 7 abandoned railroad tunnels.  Modern upgrades have been made to the road, with the most recent occurring in 2018.  For convenience, the Turnpike has rest areas with gas and food courts.  We stopped at the North Somerset service plaza for lunch.  While there, we read the plaque about the Flight 93 National Memorial.  We had a plane to catch, but wanted to take a quick side trip to the memorial.

The Flight 93 National Memorial honors the crew and passengers who stormed the cockpit on September 11, 2001.  The memorial is built on the crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The memorial has a long walkway towards an overlook.

This walkway is the actual path of the plane.  It has a timeline of events that occured that morning.

The visitor’s center contains exhibits of the circumstances that led up to the plane crashing in the Pennsylvania countryside. Flight 93 was one of four commercial airplanes that was hijacked.  Two planes hit the World Trade Center buildings in New York City and a third plane hit the Pentagon.  It has long been suspected that Flight 93 was to fly into the Capitol Building in Washington DC.  Once the plane was hijacked, the 13 passengers placed 37 phone calls to family.  They soon learned of the other planes and their own impending fate.

The passengers decided to storm the cockpit and try to over-take the hi-jackers.

As the passengers stormed the cockpit, the hi-jackers who were flying the plane, deliberately flew it into the ground.

From the visitor’s center, you walk to an overlook of the crash sight.  At 10:03 am, the plane crashed, up-side down, at 563 miles per hour.  There are no survivors.  All 33 passengers, seven crew members, and four hijackers are killed.

It is a a pretty solemn moment when you look over the valley and know that this is the final resting place of national heroes, who saved numerous lives in Washington DC.

A new exhibit that is being built to honor Flight 93, is called “Tower of Voices”  It contains 40 wind chimes, one for each passenger and crew member who died in the crash.  The polished aluminum chimes measure from 5 feet to 10 feet.

It was a quick visit but was very moving and we were really glad that we made the effort to go.  IT was now off to the Pittsburgh airport.  Our DC adventure was coming to a close.  We had learned so many things, viewed our nation’s history, experienced the 4th of July, and made memories to last a lifetime.  What a great adventure!!!

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