When I visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, like many people I was struck by the names of 9/11 victims etched into the sides of the two reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. "These names," I wrote here, "remind us that what we think of as a national event had profound consequences for individuals, families, and communities."
Today, I want to talk about another surface etched with the names of those whose personal sacrifice had profound national consequences--the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA.
Because of the quick and determined actions of the passengers and crew, Flight 93 was the only one of the four hijacked aircraft that failed to reach the terrorists' intended target that day. These brave men and women showed unity, courage, and defiance in the face of adversity, putting the good of the nation ahead of their own survival.
This morning, 11 years after their heroic recapturing of the aircraft, I visited the memorial in Shanksville with Vice President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Like the September 11 Memorial and Museum, the Flight 93 Memorial is hallowed ground. But this site is wilder, befitting the bold action of those 40 heroes and the field where their Boeing 757 crashed.
Now, a $3 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration will make it possible for the National Park Service to preserve the site as it was on September 11, 2001, while also making the memorial more accessible to visitors.
Part of the grant from FHWA's Public Lands program will also support construction of the Return Road connecting the lower Ring Road to the middle stretch of the Approach Road. This route will feature additional scenic views and opportunities to learn more about the mining history of the land.
As I wrote yesterday, the events of September 11 are forever etched in the memory of the Department of Transportation. We're thankful for the air traffic controllers and Merchant Mariners who stepped up on that tragic day, and we're forever grateful to have had 40 passengers and crew who thought of their country.
Helping the National Park Service honor those who gave up their lives to thwart the terrorists' plan is just one way we can acknowledge that blessing.