Coming home from visiting Kelly and family today we hopped off the turnpike to take winding route 30 through PA. Coal country. Laurel Highlands. 2909 elevations. Towns too small to make the map. Whoever heard of Shanksville? That is before September 11 when Flight 93 dropped out of the sky into a field there. At the Coal Miners Tavern we picked up a Somerset County Visitors Guide with a yellow-eyed eagle on the cover. In fact it is titled the Flight 93 Somerset County Visitors Guide, the rest of the sites in the country having been parsed into eight pages in the 32 page booklet. That’s what happens when planes fall on your side of the mountain.
I learned from the booklet that flight 93 took off 42 minutes late on that day. I studied the list of names and tried to picture flight attendant Lorraine Bay in her uniform. Wondered how old Andrew was or Honor Elizabeth and who was missing them on this perfect August day — a day not unlike that day weather wise.
We also passed a fellow walking for peace from Chicago to D.C. The road was narrow and we were passed him before fully absorbing who or what had just whizzed past. Since then we’ve found the young man on YouTube — Mario Penalver http://www.funnytv.us/Mario-Penalver–Peace-Walker__bhQoeGuZ6HM.html
Michael said at the time we should turn around and give him some money for his trip, but regrettably we did not test the turning radius of the car and the alertness of oncoming drivers and stop on the narrow road.
Why do we turn off of main highways? To see something different? To get away from it all?
But there is no getting away, is there? Not really. There it all was in Somerset County, somewhere left of nowheresville. Pieces of the whole mess. The downed airplane. The puffed up patriotic eagle brochure asking for donations for a monument. The details, the names, the memories. And the young man walking to end the subsequent war unjustly blamed on the events of September 11. And how many sons and daughters of coal miners are over there now?
That crater in a corn field is as wide as the planet and as deep as a mother’s pain — but instead of healing, it just seems to keep on growing.