By Amber Rosado Daily American
STONYCREEK TOWNSHIP — Visitors are once again welcome at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township.
All national parks, including the Flight 93 memorial, have reopened after the government shutdown came to an end Wednesday night. Park Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said the employees at the park are glad to be back.
“Although it was a wet Thursday, we had over 750 people at the memorial,” Reinbold said.
He said during the 16-day shutdown the memorial was completely closed and all 13 employees were furloughed.
“It’s unfortunate that the buses traveling on the turnpike didn’t have the opportunity to stop and see the memorial or the surrounding area,” Reinbold said. “We lost more than 20,000 potential visitors while we were closed.”
He said 1,200 buses visited the memorial last fall.
Park Ranger Adam Shaffer said most of the visitors at the park Thursday weren’t sure if they would be able to see the memorial.
Among the lucky visitors on Thursday were Nick and Nancy Hotra from Michigan. The couple was driving through the area and decided to stop at the memorial.
“We weren’t sure we’d be able to see it, but we took a chance,” Nick Hotra said.
Nancy Hotra said she was impressed by the design of the memorial.
“There’s something about it that distances you from it. It’s very stark,” she said.
Visitors David Braneky and Bill Moyer of West Chester were headed to a conference in Ligonier when they decided to stop by the memorial. Both men said they saw the memorial as a place to remember the courageous efforts of the airplane’s 40 passengers and crew.
Moyer said he was hoping the government shutdown would end soon.
“We were watching TV last night yelling, ‘Pass the bill, pass the bill!'” he joked.
Braneky said they were in the area last August and didn’t have a chance to visit the memorial. He said he enjoyed seeing how the story of Flight 93 was told at the memorial.
“I felt this was a place to remember, pay my respects and pray for the families,” Braneky said.
The memorial has started its winter hours. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry at 4:30 p.m.