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Ground broken for Flight 93 visitor center in Pa.

Tuesday - 9/10/2013, 5:04pm  ET

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, left, pounds a stake held by Patrick White, vice president of the Families of Flight 93, pounds it into the ground as part of a ground breaking ceremony for the Flight 93 National Memorial visitor center complex on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Shanksville, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

GENE PUSKAR
Associated Press

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- Relatives of Flight 93 victims joined the secretary of the interior Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the visitor center at the crash memorial in western Pennsylvania.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell drove the first stake to mark the site, which is on a ridge overlooking the spot where United Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, after passengers fought back against hijackers. People who lost family members in the crash also participated, and former Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney attended the ceremony.

The 6,800-square-foot visitor center is designed so that the building will be broken in two at the point of the plane's flight path overhead and is expected to open in late 2015. The ridge will be built up to give people a clear view of the crash site, which is near a memorial wall that lists the names of all 33 passengers and seven crew members who were killed.

Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was diverted from the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.

The Friends of Flight 93 volunteer group also announced that it has selected its first executive director. Norwood R. "Rob" Dennis will be responsible for day-to-day management and fundraising to help support the memorial. Dennis was formerly the CEO of the National Science Center in Washington, D.C.

Dennis is a graduate of Augusta College in Augusta, Ga. He has relocated to Pennsylvania and will begin the new position immediately.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is located in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.


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