On September 9, 2018, the Tower of Voices was dedicated at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the hard work of the Families of Flight 93, National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the dedication of the tower marks the completion of the Memorial dedicated to the memory of the 40 passengers and crew members onboard United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. This 93-foot tall wind chime marks the entrance to the Memorial and poignantly features 40 chimes, one to honor each of the passengers and crew members, many of whose last contact with their loved ones was by phone.
I had the privilege of working on a two-person team raising $45 million to build the Flight 93 National Memorial. We advocated for the 40 passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 so that their memory would be preserved for future generations to learn that, on one September morning, 40 people stood up and said “Enough is enough.”
It was such an honor to be a small part of this project and truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to help build a brand new national park. I learned many, many things during my time supporting this historic project, which I carry with me in my current work as a capital campaign consultant. But one thing sticks out most to me and I find myself returning to it more and more; it is the mission statement crafted by the Flight 93 National Memorial Partners, including the Families of Flight 93. The end of the statement reads: “reflect on the power of individuals who choose to make a difference.”
As I work with organizations across the country who feed the hungry, house the homeless, protect victims of domestic violence, give the developmentally disabled a way to contribute to their community, and save homeless animals, I have found these words to apply, although in a different way, to them. Whether we are working with a staff of 20 or 120 raising $5 million or $55 million, their commitment to their community, to make the world a better place — even just for one person or one animal — is the same.
Each September 11, we reflect on the people who chose to make a difference that day and who have chosen to make a difference in the aftermath of that day. This year, I am also reflecting on my fellow non-profit professionals who are making a difference today through their own communities and organizations that impact lives in profound ways. What a pleasure it is to support you, thanks to the lessons I learned from the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93.