Tower of Voices to be dedicated Sunday at Flight 93 Memorial
SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (WJAC) -- We're just days away from the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
This year, a new memorial has been erected in Somerset County to honor the 40 passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93 which crashed into a field in Shanksville.
Members of the media got a chance to preview the Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 Memorial, being dedicated at a ceremony Sunday.
It's was a $6-million project funded by a grant from the National Park Foundation. Chimes of this size and magnitude don't exist anywhere else in the world.
"It's the first visible memorial feature that you see as you enter, so it's like a welcoming beacon or a landmark that introduces the memorial to the visitors," architect Paul Murdoch said.
Murdoch looks at the Tower of Voices as a living memorial in sound. It’s soon to have 40 chimes for the 40 passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93.
"Those 40 heroes that rose up to fight the terrorists that morning, that's a critical part of the story: the choice that they made not to sit back and allow others to dictate the terms on how their lives would end," said Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93.
Felt's brother Edward Felt was one of those passengers. A father to two daughters, he was on a business trip that morning.
"He was a very brilliant, loving, giving, mentoring man that we miss dearly," Felt said.
And now the 93-foot tower stands as a symbol of strength and courage, echoing the voices of his brother and 39 others.
"It's not just an emotional memorial for those of us who have lived through it, especially those who have lost ones, but something that needs to be here to tell the story of what happened,” Murdoch said.
It's the last major addition to the memorial site, and the only one of its kind in the world.
Out of more than 1,100 entries to an international design competition, Murdoch was chosen as the architect for the project. He is also responsible for the design of the visitor’s center and the wall of names.
"The sound will always be changing with the wind from the site, and in that way, it's ever changing and becomes more of a living memorial," Murdoch said.
Seventeen years later, it’s an audible reminder of what took place on Flight 93.
"The fact is that 13 people made 37 phone calls, so through their voices, through their conversations, they were able to learn what was going on in real time," said Stephen Clark, superintendent of the National Parks of Western Pennsylvania.
"It's a very special place, our sacred ground,” Felt said. “The visitor's center, the Tower of Voices, each designed, again, to instruct, to educate and to inspire."
The dedication service on Sunday will have 40 family members, friends and partners to ring each of the eight chimes that are currently installed.
The remaining chimes are expected to be delivered and installed later this fall.
The ceremony is open to the public. The first Secretary of Homeland Security and 43rd governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge will headline the event.