Volume LIVNovember 2007Number 4

DeMolays Pay Tribute to Flight 93

Eight DeMolays from Pilgrim Chapter in Harrisburg conducted a brief Memorial Service at the site of the crash of Flight 93 in front of the temporary memorial wall.
The Flight 93 National Memorial, in Shenksville, Pa., was the site of a moving experience for the members and adult leaders of Pilgrim Chapter, Order of DeMolay on Sunday, July 22. They were on their way home from an exhausting weekend of fun, competition and excitement at the Annual DeMolay Convention in Greensburg, and thought it would be an interesting place to visit on the way home. They were not prepared for what they experienced, but it turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

They knew that they were going there to pay respects to those who died on that unforgettable day in September of 2001. It is said that each generation is defined by the events of their childhood. For these young men, who were in grade school at the time of the attacks six years ago, terrorism darkens the news and entertainment media that influences them daily, and colors their view of our country's place in the world.

When they arrived, they were surprised to see the large group of people who were there from all over the country and had also stopped to remember the spontaneous courage of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. As they looked at what first appeared to be a wall, they realized it was a 40' long, 9' high chain-linked fence overlooking the crash site, completely covered with flags, hats, toys, jewelry, flowers, posters, license plates, religious symbols from many traditions and many other impromptu gifts. They were overwhelmed by what they saw, and at a loss for words.

Then they noticed people beginning to gather around a woman who held a photo album. At first, they didn't realize that she was one of 43 volunteer "Ambassadors" from the Shenksville area who make sure that someone is always present to greet visitors and to tell the story of Flight 93. The young men joined the crowd and listened to her give a time line of events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001. She reminded the crowd about the heroic sacrifice made by the men and women who were on Flight 93 and who chose to prevent the deaths of hundreds or thousands of others by overpowering the hijackers. After her heartfelt presentation, one of the DeMolay members asked out loud, "Why did this have to happen?" Another member was heard to respond, "It probably didn't have to happen, but things happen for a reason. What that reason is, well, it isn't always obvious right away, but eventually we'll understand."

Then the young men remembered the new Memorial Service they had just witnessed at the DeMolay Convention. The service was adopted this year by DeMolay International for chapters to use to remember "Masons, Advisors and Friends of DeMolay" who were significant to the chapter. Deciding that the heroes of Flight 93 were indeed significant to them, Past Master Councilor Tom Moyer and the top three elected Councilors of the chapter performed the ceremony, and named all of those who were aboard the plane. Some of the visitors to the site paused to watch the brief ceremony, which was performed with great solemnity by the DeMolays. Inspired to leave a piece of themselves behind, as a tribute to the fallen heroes, they placed a DeMolay logo magnet on the fence before they left, satisfied that they had done a very worthwhile service to themselves and to others by simply taking the time to remember.

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