By Leor Lovinger, MLA ’03
In July 2005, Disturbed Harmony, by Leor Lovinger MLA ’03, was chosen as one of five finalists out of more than 1,000 entries for the Flight 93 National Memorial. The winning scheme will be announced in early September 2005.
On Sept. 11, 2001, our cities, our landscapes, and our lives were under attack. Their rhythms and harmony were disturbed. That day, the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 acted as the country’s first line of defense.
Our concept for a Bravery Wall, with its inscriptions crossing the rolling rural landscape, was inspired by the stories of the telephone calls between the heroes of Flight 93 and their loved ones, through which we all learned about their collective acts of sacrifice and courage. As the wall moves north to south toward the Sacred Ground, ending at the Circle of Heroism, it symbolizes how 40 individuals, bound by fate, confronted evil and chose to act. Because of their actions, Flight 93 will be remembered forever — not in infamy but for their unconquerable human spirit and messages of hope and love.
The scale of the proposed Flight 93 Memorial Park and the rural setting provide the opportunity to create a unique experience. The dragline tells the story of a land in the process of reclamation. Learning about the site’s mining history and witnessing its reclamation resonates with visitors to the memorial, as they acknowledge the past while looking ahead and anticipating the healing of our wounds.
The Bravery Wall, the memorial’s spine, has a strong presence in the 2,200-acre site, yet it will complement the landscape rather than overpowering it. The Bravery Wall unfolds before the visitors as they move through the park, providing many levels of intimacy and opportunities for remembrance and contemplation. Wind, sunlight, sky patterns, and snow transform visitors’ experiences of the wall, making every visit unique.
The full length of the Bravery Wall, crossing the Field of Honor, conveys the magnitude of loss of human life on Sept. 11, as one imagines 3,021 people standing hand-in-hand, stretching the wall’s entire 11,000-foot length across the landscape. An anniversary walk will transform this line in the landscape into a ribbon of life, as participants remember those lost and learn about Flight 93 and the heroes, acknowledge their sacrifice and heroism in the face of infamy, and gain a better understanding of the enduring human spirit.
The hard rock qualities of the granite used in the Bravery Wall blocks are a fitting testimonial to the strength exhibited by those aboard Flight 93. We propose an earth-toned granite, similar in color to the local fieldstone, that will blend with the environment and withstand the harsh site conditions for centuries to come.
As heroism is the outcome of bravery, the Bravery Wall ends at the Circle of Heroism. The Circle of Heroism symbolizes the 40 individuals coming together in an act of collective courage that would change history. Forty stone columns have been carefully located within a setting of stepped terraces, with views across the meadow to the Sacred Ground. Annual events in the space will encourage us to reflect upon the heroes’ connectedness and celebrate our own, while acknowledging them and ourselves as individuals.
We envision a memorial that engages visitors beyond the park boundary, including nearby towns and neighbors. Commemorative benches, donated by local youth, provide resting spots along the Bravery Wall, and convenient locations have been planned where local “ambassadors” can continue to enrich visitors’ experiences. Both serve to link visitors to local communities. Views of the dragline, and out to the surrounding countryside and Laurel Ridge, connect visitors to the region. The Circle of Heroism includes an area where visitors from across the nation and beyond can weave a tapestry of tribute to the fallen heroes through words, symbols, or cherished possessions left behind.
As visitors watch others experience the memorial, commune with the wall, and hear the echoes of the heroes’ voices, they may be drawn to reflect on the values by which they live their lives. Though we are creating a national memorial, which will be a place of inspiration and hope for all who see it, the site will forever remain the setting for the Sacred Ground, the final resting place of 40 very uncommon souls.