Park Service: Pa. 9/11 memorial to be 'healing'

The Flight 93 National Memorial is close to being finished in time for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, including a long, white marble wall bearing the names of the 40 passengers and crew who perished when the plane crashed.

Visitors will be able to follow a walkway just over 100 yards away from where the plane crashed. The design features dark concrete paths and a long, white marble wall inscribed with the names of the 40 passengers and crew who died.

"It's intended to be a memorial site, and focus on their actions, as opposed to try and re-create an historical event," said Keith Newlin, park service superintendent for Western Pennsylvania. "They were fighting over the skies for 35 minutes before they came to this site. Their resting place is here."

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing into the White House or Capitol building, the 9/11 Commission found.

According to family members in cell phone contact with passengers, those aboard tried to overpower the hijackers. But the plane crashed into a field near rural Shanksville, about 65 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Elsewhere that day, two planes took down the World Trade Center towers and another crashed into the Pentagon. In all, nearly 3,000 people died.

Newlin said the Flight 93 Memorial uses a few basic materials. "It's intended to give people a healing experience," he said.

Some remains are still interred at the crash site so access will be restricted there.

During a Thursday tour, geese visited the wetlands and workers placed dark concrete benches alongside recently planted grass. Extensive landscaping work has already been done at the memorial site.

About $50 million in public and private money has been raised for the project, according to the Families of Flight 93 group. The first phase, including a ring road leading to the site, a memorial plaza, and a parking area, is expected to cost about $60 million.

Future plans call for 40 memorial groves of 40 trees each, an interactive visitor center, and a "Tower of the Voices" featuring 40 wind chimes.

Meanwhile, in New York on Thursday, museum planners with the national 9/11 memorial are tackling the issue of operating costs and considering whether an entrance fee should be required for all visitors except the relatives of 9/11 victims. The museum is to open in September 2012.

Members of the public would be able to visit the 8-acre memorial plaza, to be opened to the public following the tenth anniversary commemoration of the attacks, for free.