The Clymer Community Activity Group took things up a notch this week.
After organizing as a senior luncheon group that had met a few times before the COVID-19 pandemic and a few localized events, a group of 50 Clymer residents hopped on a bus this week for a trip to the Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, Pa. and the Kinzua Bridge State Park.
The Clymer Community Activity Group began as a senior luncheon group which met a few times before the pandemic. Then, Dale Willink, who is in charge of the group, got in contact with Marlea Brown and Dianne Heslink to bring the group back, and the three worked together to put together the trip.
“We operate under the umbrella of a Western New York nonprofit that does things such as summer recreation and a few other programs around town,” Willink said. “We felt a lot of community members would enjoy a trip like this, especially senior citizen members, and they might not be able to drive out here on their own, so we hired a bus.”
Cherlye Wade, the tour guide for the day, said she worked with the group to think of ways to make the day work.
“I was asked to do this trip when (Willink, Brown, and Einink) contacted me,” Wade said. “I came up with suggestions and we worked together to figure out what would work. I’m very impressed with the Clymer community’s ability to fill up the bus.”
The first official stop on the trip was the Flight 93 memorial. The group visited the Visitor Center, listened to a talk by a park official at the flagpole, and saw the Tower of Voices.
Flight 93 memorial park commemorates the sacrifice made of the 40 passengers aboard the plane on 9/11 who crashed it into a field in Somerset, Pennsylvania when it was taken over by hijackers. A 40 foot crater was created when the plane crashed, leading to no survivors and still slightly unclear evidence of what really happened, to this day. This includes whether or not their was a bomb on the plane, how the passengers got up to the cockpit, whether they actually did, and who was stabbed by the hijackers when they took over the plane.
It is known that the original plan of the hijackers who were members of Al-Qaeda, was to have 10 planes attack different places around the United States, which was then decided to not be possible and narrowed down to the four that were attacked on 9 /11. Additionally it is believed that the passengers thought they could still make it home alive if they did not fight back, but eventually decided to after calls home revealed to them what had happened at the World Trade Center. Also, the plan of the terrorists was disrupted slightly by the plane being delayed because all of the attacks were meant to happen at the same time. Because of the actions of the 40 passengers aboard, Flight 93 was the only plane to not make it to the intended target on 9/11 and a lot of information was learned about that day because of the plane’s black boxes as a part of what is known as the most intensive investigation in FBI history.
There are two quotes the staff at the memorial associated with Flight 93. One, Abraham Lincoln said when discussing a different field in a different time.
“The world will forget what we said here today, but they will never forget what they did here,” he said.
The other quote states, “a common field one day, a field of honor the next.” This quote can be found in multiple places in the Flight 93 memorial.
The Flight 93 Memorial began as a small memorial in 2002. The base opened in 2011, with the visitor center opening in 2015. The Tower of Voices, a large tower depicting 40 wind chimes for each of the passengers aboard the plane, opened in 2020 There is also an oak tree memorial, consisting of 40 groves of 40 oak trees for the 40 passengers.
For visitors on the trip, the reality of 9/11 hit a little bit harder after the visit.
“I will definitely look at 9/11 a little differently this year,” Linda TeCroney said.
TeCroney’s granddaughter Melissa TeCroney, who lives in Germany, said the trip Reflects on something she has seen before in the difference between patriotism in Germany versus the United States.
“There is more national pride here than in Germany,” Melissa TeCroney said. “Part of that is because of 9/11, and part of that is still because we are not proud of Hitler.”
‘HEROES AMONG US’
Trip participants then visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in the afternoon. Kinzua Bridge was the highest and longest railway bridge in the world before it was destroyed in 2003 by a F-1 tornado. It was renovated into the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk in 2011, where visitors can now go out onto the skywalk and look down into the gorge.
The bus returned to Clymer around 8 pm that night.
Willink said that the Clymer Community Activity Group hopes to be able to do more bus trips like this in the future.
“It’s a challenge to get everyone coordinated and signed up but we hope to be able to do something like this again,” Willink said.
The title of this trip was “Heroes Among Us”which Willink credited as Wade’s idea.
“The original plan was to go to the Flight 93 memorial, and I of course would consider all of them heroes,” Wade said. “After that we were originally going to visit The Underground Railroad Museum in Blair County. And they were heroes as well, but a different kind, because they were risking prison with what they were doing. I made that the title because I think everyone could be a hero if they ended up in a situation where their natural makeup comes out. There are heroes among us all.”