By Joe Passero
Although remnants of tropical storm Gordon slammed southwest Pennsylvania on Sept. 9, the heavy emotions carried by citizens who attended the Tower of Voices dedication ceremony could not be weathered.
Hundreds of people, including 14 Rider students and staff led by Rebovich Institute faculty members Micah Rasmussen and Jim Castagnera, attended the ceremony. The ceremony took place just a short distance from the location where United Airlines flight 93 careened into the ground on Sept. 11, 2001, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Mark Schweiker, former governor of Pennsylvania and current Rider University Board of Trustees member, invited Rider students and staff to the dedication ceremony.
“We put together what we thought would be an engaging weekend of learning and hoped students would be interested,” said Rasmussen. At first, Rasmusen was not sure how students would feel about the lengthy journey. She was pleasantly surprised.
“We knew it would be a grueling 500-mile journey to the memorial and back in little more than 24 hours,” said Rasmussen. “We weren’t sure how students would respond. We were gratified and a little surprised by everyone’s strong and immediate interest with virtually no lead time between the beginning of the school year and the trip.”
Schweiker, along with disaster psychiatrist Glenn Kashurba, answered questions from students and faculty Rider party and recalled their memories from the tragic day of Sept. 11.
“We knew the Saturday night briefing by Gov. Schweiker and Dr. Kashurba would be a compelling opportunity to learn directly from two of the folks who were on the front lines of Pennsylvania’s response to a national emergency,” Rasmussen said. “What we could not have predicted was how engaged our students were in the evening—how they made the most of their time with these responders.”
The Saturday night outing was followed by a cool, rainy day on the site where United flight 93 crashed.
The dedication ceremony for the symbolic structure began at 1 p.m. on Sept. 9.
“The Tower [of Voices] is literally a living monument to and incredible display of valor and heroism aboard United flight 93,” Schweiker said.
The Tower of Voices is made of concrete, strong and 93-feet tall. In the tower, there are 40 unique chimes which stand for all the passengers who perished that day
“This 93-foot-tall concrete structure with 40 chimes is meant to guarantee that their voices float across Somerset County and western Pennsylvania forever,” Schweiker said.
To visit the flight 93 National Memorial, visit www.nps.gov.