Displayed among the artifacts at the Flight 93 National Memorial is the badge of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer recovered from the downed plane. The badge was discovered by investigators amid the cockpit debris. I draw no conclusions from this. The physics of airplane crashes, especially when a plane is deliberately driven into the ground from a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, are complex. What I know is that the badge belonged to my cousin Rich Guadagno and, like the other 32 passengers and 7 crew members who perished that day at the hands of terrorists, he was a hero.
I first visited the site outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, almost by happenstance on a cold February day more than three years after the 9/11 attack. I’d been leading a group of West Point cadets at the Officers Christian Fellowship Retreat Center when I realized how close we were.
The cadets crowded around the 40-foot chain-link fence at the crash site, one foot for each passenger and crew. We had troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq by then, a direct result of what had happened that infamous day in the scarred remains of this abandoned strip mine. Some of these very cadets would face deployment themselves. I wanted them to see how it had begun, to understand that history happens in real places, to people and families whose lives are forever changed.
The wreckage had long been cleared away. The fence was lined with notes and mementos—photos, small American flags, children’s drawings, stuffed animals—honoring the victims. A more permanent memorial was years away. Still there was an undeniable power, a sense of loss I hadn’t really stopped to think much about.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The Legacy of Flight 93
An Army officer remembers his cousin Rich Guadagno and the other 39 heroes who died in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11
After two divorces, did I really know what I wanted in a relationship? Did I even know who I needed to be?
“God Will Bless Your Business
George Turner was sure the pandemic would spell the end of his struggling bike shop. His pastor had other ideas
The 46th Peak
We decided to do this last hike of the challenge together. Partway down, I heard my husband scream
Challenge Yourself to...Connect More!
Eager to emerge from the loneliness of lockdown and socialize again? We’ve put together a list of 15 challenges for reconnecting with the people you care about—and making new friends too. Focus on a few activities, or pick one each day to try over the next two months. Pay attention to how your relationships flourish!
Reason for Hope
I feared my son would never get off drugs. Until an art class changed my heart
He was the dog I always wanted. But he came with baggage, a little like me
ALONE WITH MY FAITH
The pandemic left a lot of us feeling isolated. Including me. But it opened the door to something deeper in my music and in my soul
How two strangers found friendship and healing as they came to terms with the legacy of slavery
70 Years of Hope & Inspiration
Elizabeth Sherrill’s life as a writer has been a journey of the soul, a journey that also became the very soul of Guideposts magazine