By Amber Rosado Daily American
The National Park Foundation announced Monday the completion of the Flight 93 National Memorial capital fundraising campaign. The foundation raised $40 million in private funds for the design and construction of the memorial honoring the 40 lives lost on United Flight 93 in Stonycreek Township.
King Laughlin, vice president of the Flight 93 National Memorial Campaign at the National Park Foundation, said everyone has been working hard to raise funds for the memorial. He said more than 100,000 donors have contributed to the fund.
“We started receiving donations right after 9/11, and they have continued to come in,” Laughlin said. Funds have made possible the construction of the park’s Memorial Plaza, Wall of Names, 40 Memorial Groves and Field of Honor, and a major reforestation of the landscape. Additional construction through 2015 will include a visitor center, learning center and flight path memorial walls.
The project is privately and publicly funded. In addition to the $40 million in private contributions, at least $32 million in government financing has been secured.
The first phase of the memorial was raising funds and constructing the road leading to the memorial and crash site. This second phase includes the construction of the visitor center and learning center, a pedestrian bridge and other design features. A groundbreaking ceremony for the centers will be held today.
National Park Service site Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said he believes the new educational facilities will bring more people to the memorial.
“These new buildings at the memorial will lengthen the amount of time visitors stay at the park, Somerset County and western Pennsylvania,” he said. The park has received more than 300,000 visitors since 2011.
Reinbold said the visitor center will over look the crash site. It will include exhibits about the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Flight 93. He said the learning center will have changing exhibits from month to month.
“This will give us the ability to update the story being told about Flight 93 to meet the needs of future generations,” Reinbold said.
The final phase of the project includes raising money for features such as the Tower of Voices and the park’s operational needs.
Gordon Felt, Families of Flight 93 president, said he is thrilled the capital campaign has been completed.
“We’ll be glad to pick up the ball and help with the final fundraising,” he said.