Eleven years after 9/11, the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Somerset County remains unfinished, and the spouses of Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senators are working to raise the remaining funds to complete the project.
Kris Toomey, wife of Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) will co-host an event tomorrow in Shanksville to raise awareness and funds.
Phase 1 of the memorial was dedicated during the 10th anniversary. Mrs. Toomey said her family attended the anniversary service, and she has since been actively engaged in fundraising efforts.
“They held a fundraiser earlier this year because former Presidents Clinton and Bush and Speaker Boehner offered to help also and so they’ve raised five of the ten million dollars that they needed since the tenth anniversary, but they still have a remaining five million dollars,” Toomey said.
The final $5 million will be used to construct an education facility for young children to visit on school field trips. Toomey said this is one of the most important aspects of the memorial because most elementary students are too young to remember the attacks.
“There’s one social studies book that, in describing the events of 9/11, it just says ‘a plane went down in Pennsylvania’, nothing more than that," said Toomey, who believes that lack of memorialization of the lives lost in Shanksville is "a tragedy."
The education facility is part of the Visitors' Center that is now under construction and is due to be dedicated in September 2014. A final phase of the memorial includes a 93-foot tower but construction and completion of that is dependent on funding.
Mrs. Toomey’s said Mrs. Casey seemed like the most natural choice for a partner to help her with the event.
“Senator Casey and my husband being the two senators from the state, I thought we were best poised to get the most attention and bring it to the national attention that it deserves,” Toomey said. “It’s not just a Pennsylvania issue, I think it’s national. But since the plane landed in Pennsylvania, I thought we were the best to do it,” she said.
Keynote speakers will include Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of the memorial, and the former president of the Family Members of Flight 93. Family member of a dozen of the victims will also attend; Congressional members and their families were also invited.