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Monday, May 25, 2020

In memoriam Flight 93 Sept. 11, 2001

The name of one of the passengers and her unborn child listed on the Wall of Names at the crash site  of United Flight 93 in Stoystown, Pennsylvania September 11, 2001/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the entrance to the Flight 93 National Memorial and visible from Highway 30 is the unfinished Tower of Voices, 93 feet high with 40 wind chimes, a "living memorial," the National Park Service writes in its brochure, dedicated on Sept. 9, 2018, a musical monument unique to the world.  About 10 of the wind chimes have been installed (there is presently no sound at the Tower) with the rest to be added at irregular times, according to Wikipedia. (A simulated sound may be heard at the NPS website.)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Inside the Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the visitor center about 1.5 miles away from the Tower of Voices is this walkway which leads to the Western Overlook of the site, following the plane's path before it went down/Photo
At the Visitor Center, the times and locations of the other three plane crashes are carved in stone on the walkway to the Western Overlook. This says: "9:37:46 AM   Pentagon   American Airlines Flight 77"  /Photo by Patricia Leslie

The Western Overlook at the Visitor Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the Memorial Plaza below the Western Overlook and Visitor Center, the victims' pictures and names are shown with other displays. A cell phone tour  is available at no charge. Victims' names are also listed in the memorial brochure and on the Wall of Names/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The Wall of Names looking towards the Visitor Center on the top of the hill. The locations of the Wall and the Visitor Center follow the trajectory of the plane as it crashed. Paul Murdoch Architects conceived the site with victims' names carved in separate white marble slabs, in a design reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. For any memorial of this magnitude, of course there was controversy, and the architect changed the design/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Looking in the opposite direction at the Wall of Names towards the locked gate (in the distance) which leads to the crash site, a holy place where victims' families are permitted to enter. To the left in the distance beyond the black wall border is the crash site/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Beyond the black granite border at Memorial Plaza on the right is the crash site. Places for visitors to leave tributes are fashioned into the wall and collected. Visitors may also leave cards at the Visitor Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This direction is opposite the picture two above, with the black granite border on the left defining the crash site. Beyond is the Wall of Names/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 At Memorial Plaza/Photo by Patricia Leslie
/Photo by Patricia Leslie

On this Memorial Day we also remember and pay tribute to the victims of United Airlines Flight 93, the 33 passengers and seven crew members who ended terrorists' efforts on September 11, 2001 before the plane could strike Washington, D.C.*

Only 20 minutes from Washington, the heroism, strength, and bravery of the crew and passengers prevented another tragedy of an aircraft, intending to destroy a national monument.

Flight 93 was the only one of four planes hijacked that awful day which missed its target.

Rather, this plane barreled upside down into the ground at 593 mph in a Pennsylvania field leaving a crater measuring 30 feet by 15 feet deep which the coroner ordered covered. Remains of every victim were found and returned to families and also, left here.

Now a 17-ton sandstone marks the point of the impact with a cluster of hemlock trees nearby.

Flight 93's grave is one of solemnity and peace whose design and place are marked by a sense of guilt and pride that passengers and crew members on a plane took over with nothing more than sheer determination, mission, and force on their side.

Although it is a sad place, still I was left with astonishment over the bravery and charge of strong men and women who did not hesitate to seize control from the perpetrators and save our nation from more terror. The victims made deadly life-changing decisions in seconds. They are forever heroes whose legacy remind us of what we can do on a moment's notice when called to stand and serve.

I wondered what I would do on a plane like this. How about you?
American heroism grows stronger, never ceasing to overcome adversity and challenge like that we face today.  We, too, can stand and serve our nation and do the right thing.

* The exact target, the U.S. Capitol or the White House, has never been determined.

What: Flight 93 National Memorial

When:  The park is open seven days a week from sunup to sundown, however, the Visitor Center is still closed for covid-19 reasons. When open, the Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Where:  6424 Lincoln Highway, Stoystown, PA 15567. (Searching for the park's name will take you to the wrong entrance.) It is a trash-free park.

How much: No charge but donations are welcome!

Getting there: Directions are found on the NPS website. From D.C. it's about 3.5 driving hours away.

For more information(814) 893-6322 or the NPS website

Friday, May 22, 2020

Bike the sites on the Mall

Detail from the Vietnam Women's Memorial on the National Mall, dedicated on Armistice Day, 1993 and designed by Glenna Goodacre (1939-2020)/Photo by Patricia Leslie

I am a lucky gal! Not too far from the National Mall where I can hop on a bike and go riding the sites to see beautiful statues, art and scenery.  The Mall is so big, there's plenty to see.  Come on aboard, mates, for a wonderful time, corona-free, on a Sunday afternoon. Or, anytime.

Happy Memorial Day to veterans everywhere!  We thank you.
Photo by Patricia Leslie    

Our first stop was in Bolivar Gardens a block north of the National Mall where Virginia, C and 18th streets meet in Washington, D.C. This park was named after "the Liberator" Simon Bolivar (1783-1830).

The Republic of Venezuela gave the statue to the U.S. in 1958 which is across the street from the Pan American Union Building of the Organization of American States. Felix de Weldon designed it and the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Here, General Bolivar, proud centerpiece of the park, leads troops to freedom from Spain which formerly occupied what is now Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Equator, Peru, and Panama. 
Near General Bolivar and the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with the names of 58,318 veterans who died as a result of the war. Some 3,000,000 persons visit the memorial every year, designed in blind competition by Yale University student, Maya Lin (b. 1959)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Across the grass from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the Vietnam Women's Memorial dedicated on Armistice Day, 1993, designed by Glenna Goodacre (1939-2020)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The Vietnam Women's Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Detail from the Vietnam Women's Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The sculptor's signature stone at the Vietnam Women's Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie 

Between the WWII and the Lincoln memorials and not far from the Korean War Veterans Memorial, is the District of Columbia War Memorial which lists in alphabetical order the names of all 499 District men and women who died in World War I service. Not rank, not race, nor gender is important at this memorial.

The website at the National Park Service says the structure is big enough to accommodate the U.S. Marine Corps band and was built as a bandstand for concerts to honor the war dead. 

General John J. Pershing and John Philip Sousa, the former conductor of the Marine Corps Band, were among the thousands who attended or listened to live radio coverage of the ceremony when President Herbert Hoover dedicated the War Memorial on Armistice Day, November 11,1931.

For years the memorial stood unattended, in poor condition, hidden in trees, unseen by many, neglected and languishing until 2010 when a $3.6 million grant paid for its restoration. Since then, the roof (below) has deteriorated and needs work.

The D.C. War Memorial on the National Mall with a rusty canopy, in need of refurbishment/Photo by Patricia Leslie
From a cluster of cherry blossom trees, the Washington Monument rises/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The centerfold of the World War II Memorial is the Lincoln Memorial, seen in the distance. The DC Memorial stands in the trees on the left, and the Vietnam memorials, in the trees on the right/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A host of golden daffodils border the entrance to the 9th Street Expressway adjacent to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Beautiful, fragrant hyacinths dot the landscape somewhere on the Mall/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Snow in springtime? It happens, but these pretties were also along the walkway beside the Natural History museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Photo by Patricia Leslie 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt summoned his friend, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, and told him that if a memorial were erected to the president, FDR would like it to be about the size of his desk, please, nothing fancy, but a location at the corner of the U.S. National Archives would be nice.  And so it was, dedicated on the 20th anniversary of President Roosevelt's death, April 12, 1965 on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The FDR Memorial at National Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Vietnam Women's Memorial/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The museums are still closed but that doesn't keep hundreds from enjoying the statuary and beautiful scenery at the Mall where spaciousness permits easy social distancing. Mask wearers vary from about a third a few weeks ago to more than half now.

Yes! Get on that bike and ride, have fun, and learn a thing or two. (Read other recent posts "on the Mall": the delay of the dedication of the Eisenhower Memorial and a sad Earth Day Park.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Covid-19 delays Eisenhower Memorial dedication

These are scenes of sculptures of the Eisenhower Memorial behind a fence at the U.S. Department of Education building, taken in mid-April.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission website describes the scene: "On the right side of the memorial core, Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II is commemorated by a bronze heroic-sized statue with sculptures of his soldiers inspired by the famous photograph with the 101st Airborne Division before their jump into France." See below/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020
The left side of the memorial which the Commission describes: "The bronze heroic-sized statue of Eisenhower as 34th President of the United States places him at the center of the White House Oval Office flanked by sculptures of civilian and military advisors, symbolizing the balance Eisenhower struck between conflicting demands of national security and peaceful progress. The bas relief global background depicts a map of the world symbolizing Eisenhower's role as a world statesman and preeminent internationalist pursuing universal peace." See below/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020
President Eisenhower in the Oval Office. The bronze sculptures are classic, lacking ugly modernity to detract from the beauty of the entire presentation/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020
A closer view of General Eisenhower talking to the troops, powerful in the emotion it stimulates of the memory of the great man, gentle, intelligent, forceful, an example of a leader, an extreme contrast to what we endure now day-to-day/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020
The stainless steel tapestry with scenes from D-Day beaches screens the dull and lifeless Education Building, on the left/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020
The tapestry on the right side at the corner of the Education Building/Photo by Patricia Leslie, April 19, 2020

The dedication of the long-awaited and controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. September 17, 2020 from May 8, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

Week-long festivities in honor of our 34th president will precede the event which will be live streamed on Facebook.

September 17 is "Constitution Day" formerly called "Citizenship Day" which President Harry S Truman signed into law in 1952.  During President Eisenhower's tenure, the U.S. Congress asked him to proclaim the week of September 17 - 23 "Constitution Week."

The four-acre Eisenhower Memorial site is at the base of Capitol Hill, across the street from the Independence Avenue entrance to the National Air and Space Museum, and in front of the monolithic federal Education Building, screened by a huge tapestry with scenes from  D Day beaches. (Praise Ike!)

Public and private events are planned with more information available at the website after July 1, 2020. 

Ed Perez, the director of government relations, public affairs and special events for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, answered questions about events which include:

An exhibition at the Library of Congress, Eisenhower and the Essence of Leadership in the Thomas Jefferson Building. "Details to follow the reopening of non-essential DC businesses."

September 14, 6:30 p.m. - a lecture, Eisenhower and Infrastructure, hosted by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. RSVP required. "Details to follow the reopening of non-essential DC businesses."

September 15, 7 p.m. - a moderated discussion, A Re-Appreciation of Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the U.S. Archivist David Ferriero and Eisenhower historians at McGowan Theater, National Archives. RSVP suggested.  "Details to follow the reopening of non-essential DC businesses."

September 16, 3 p.m. For Kansans, hosted by EMC Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Russell Senate Office Building, Kennedy Caucus Room. "By invitation only."

September 16, 7 p.m. - a film, Ike: The Making of an American Hero, hosted by George Colburn, the director. "Details to follow the reopening of non-essential DC businesses."

The designer of the complex was Frank Gehry assisted by the sculptor, Sergey Eylanbekov; the tapestry artist, Tomas Osinski; and the inscription artist, Nicholas Waite Benson. Film of the artists and their work on the Eisenhower Memorial are presented at the website.

Eylanbekov was born in Russia where he attended the Moscow School of Fine Arts and the Surikov Academy of Fine Arts. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 and became a citizen. 

Osinski, also an American citizen, was born in Poland where he attended Warsaw's Visual Art High School and the Academy of Fine Art.

At age 15 Nicholas Waite Benson became his family's third generation stone carver when he began working with his father, John Everett Benson, at the John Stevens Shop, founded in 1705.  Nicholas studied in Switzerland at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Schule für Gestaltung, Basel, and upon his father's retirement in 1993, he took over ownership and creative directorship of the shop. He has designed and carved inscriptions for the National World War II Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. In 2010 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. 

Among contributors to the Eisenhower Memorial are Gettysburg College, Donald and Joyce Rumsfeld, George and Charlotte Shultz, the Bristol, Tennessee Republican Women's Club, and United Daughters of the Confederacy, Loudoun, Virginia, Chapter 170.

Questions may be sent to   The website has many pictures, renderings, lesson plans, and graphics for grades 7 - 12.

Typical of all-things Washington, the site and design were controversial from Day One.  Read the lengthy description of the memorial's evolution at Wikipedia which is long enough for a book which it became.