A Visit to the Site This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   My grandparents live in The Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. There are farms,fields, lakes and golf courses, but nothing ever happened there - until September11th when tons of steel in the shape of American Airlines Flight 93 fell out ofthe sky.

Like so many of my classmates, I watched and listened to thereports of the terrorist attacks in New York City. I visited New York a few yearsago and have photographs of the World Trade Center. Then came the attack on thePentagon. My family had been to Washington recently, and I could picture thePentagon. And suddenly there was the report of crash at a site about 80 milesfrom Pittsburgh. Most of my friends listened with little interest, but it took mybreath away. Shanksville, Pennsylvania ... Indian Lake ... it sank in - that'swhere my grandparents live!

My family went to visit my grandparents duringthe holiday break. We had a typical Christmas with lots of relatives, lots offood, lots of presents and lots of time. After catching up with everyone andeating too much, my grandmother gathered us together for an excursion that willstay with me forever. We went to see the crash site less than a mile from theirhouse.

Even though it had been almost four months since the crash, thedevastation at Ground Zero was still on the news every night. I think I expectedto see something like that in Shanksville, perhaps the remains of the plane andother debris. Instead, what we came to when we drove over the hill was a calm,quiet, peaceful patch of earth. There wasn't even a scar on the ground. This wasrural Pennsylvania, and it looked okay. If you didn't know, you wouldn't be ableto imagine the destruction, heroism and loss of life that took place at thatfield.

So that the crash of Flight 93 would never be forgotten, localcitizens erected a fence and wall. They designed a road and a parking lot forpeople who might want to stop and think. It is a makeshift memorial. Soon it willbecome a national site with proper plaques and maybe a building with information.I hope there won't be souvenirs, but you never know with the government.

Right now, however, it is a wonderful example of what local people did in a timeof national disaster. Visitors bring flowers and flags. There is a board and apen on the fence where people from all over the country scribble messages. Mygrandma and father each wrote a message. I couldn't.

A local group putup wooden "Angels of Freedom" with the names of each crash victim.Flags, wreaths, pictures and lots of flowers add an unexpected burst of red,white and blue to an otherwise bleak field. Various artistic forms of theinfamous expression "Let's Roll!" are scattered across the fence, boardand even wrapped around the flagpole.

In the parking lot, there were carsfrom many states. About ten people were visiting the site when we arrived. Westayed for half an hour, and the crowd got bigger and bigger. Families poured outof their SUVs and minivans. Some were dressed up; some looked like local farmers;some looked like my family, in jeans and warm coats, hats and gloves. Visitorslooked at each other with interest as to where each was from, but as we gotcloser to the fence, that didn't matter anymore.

We were Americansexpressing our patriotism, respect and awe at the fact that Shanksville,Pennsylvania is no longer untouchable.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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