“End of Serenity” photo will be displayed aboard USS Somerset

By Judy D.J. Ellich Daily American

Indian Lake Borough resident Val McClatchey, center, donates a copy of her photo titled, "End of Serenity" to be added to the USS Somerset. The donation was presented to the Somerset County Commissioners from left, John Vatavuk and Pamela Tokar-Ickes. (Photo by Judy D.J. Ellich / June 19, 2013

Indian Lake Borough resident Val McClatchey, center, donates a copy of her photo titled, “End of Serenity” to be added to the USS Somerset. The donation was presented to the Somerset County Commissioners from left, John Vatavuk and Pamela Tokar-Ickes. (Photo by Judy D.J. Ellich / June 19)

“End of Serenity,” the famous photograph taken by Indian Lake resident Val McClatchey on September 11, 2001, will find a home aboard the USS Somerset.

The photo depicts a smoke plume above a red barn near the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93. A copy of it will be placed on the USS Somerset, which is scheduled to be commissioned by the U.S. Navy in the spring.

“This is an incredible honor for the photo to be part of history,” she said.

McClatchey presented the framed photo to the Somerset County commissioners Tuesday. Commissioner John Vatavuk will mail the donated photograph to New Orleans, where it will eventually be placed in the Flight 93 museum on the ship.

Wood from sugar maple trees cut down for construction of Route 219 from Meyersdale to Somerset will join the photo in the museum. A framed Somerset County map and three signs will also be sent within the next month, said Vatavuk, who has worked on the ship project since 2008.

McClatchey’s photo and a video by the late Dave Berkebile, of Berlin, which also shows a cloud of smoke rising from the crash site, were the background for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum as shown on the “Today” show in April, McClatchey said.

She remembers that the “Today” show was on September 11, 2001, when she ran outside and snapped the photo, which has traveled the world since.

Her photo has been published worldwide and was recognized by the International Society of Photography. McClatchey was awarded the Outstanding Achievement for Amateur Photography. The photo hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Last year her photo was displayed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. The Flight 93 National Memorial is another destination. And now it will be a part of the USS Somerset, which commemorates the actions of the airplane’s passengers and crew.

“I’ve been told that the life expectancy of a Navy ship is about 50 years,” Vatavuk told McClatchey as he accepted the donation. “This picture will be floating around the world for at least 50 years.”

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