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Bush to sign bill creating Flight 93 memorial

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

By Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

What it will look like is open to conjecture. Whether it will be a place to reflect or an active recounting of history hasn't been decided.

But tomorrow, with a signature from President Bush, the effort to create a permanent national memorial at the field where United Flight 93 crashed Sept. 11, 2001 will take another step.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, proposed the bill, passed by Congress this summer, that will have the National Park Service work with an advisory commission and task force to come up with plans for a memorial at the site in Somerset County.

The groups may spend up to three years on the plans before they're handed to the Department of the Interior, according to Murtha's legislation. Planners say the memorial itself could take another two years to complete.

Murtha said he was pleased with how quickly his measure moved through Congress.

The current memorial is a makeshift affair, overseen by Somerset County, where local volunteers answer questions from visitors and where tens of thousands of people have come to gaze across a quarter-mile of sloping, reclaimed strip mine at the crash site.

The area has gained prominence as Flight 93 has been portrayed by government officials as the airliner on which passengers fought to regain control from the hijackers. Otherwise, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said at the site two weeks ago, the terrorists might have crashed the Boeing 757 into the Capitol or the White House.

Murtha said yesterday that planning for the memorial would be "a careful and deliberate process" that will include historians, local residents, survivors of Flight 93's victims and owners of property near the site.

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