STOYSTOWN – Forty American flags stood tall and the sound of bagpipes rang out on State Game Lands 93 in Somerset County, as the Pennsylvania Game Commission rededicated a memorial to honor the 40 heroic passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93.
The ceremony was held on the morning of Friday, Sept. 10, in advance of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The agency dedicated a new wooden game lands sign; two stone, engraved benches, one honoring all 40 men and women on board and one honoring U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist and Law Enforcement Officer Richard J. Guadagno; and two informational kiosks with the 40 names, the Flight 93 story, the history of the game lands and more in the memorial area of the game lands.
A keystone was also cut into the landscape on the grassy hillside overlooking the memorial with the number 93 painted in the middle.
“The Pennsylvania Game Commission is honored to protect and maintain State Game Lands 93 ensuring all who visit remember the 40 brave men and women whose actions saved an untold number of lives 20 years ago,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.
“State Game Lands 93 spans more than 700 acres and preserves the sacred land surrounding the Flight 93 National Memorial while providing quality wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities.”
State Game Lands 93 is located across U.S. Route 30, almost directly adjacent to the entrance of the National Flight 93 Memorial in Stoystown.
The agency originally dedicated the game lands at a ceremony in 2010 and a stone and sign were placed in the memorial area. A map and more information about State Game Lands 93 is available online at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Due to Flight 93 passenger Richard Guadagno’s life-long passion and commitment to nature, wildlife and conservation, the agency constructed a special memorial for him including the “Guadagno Trail” and a wetlands habitat.
In 2001, he was serving as a Project Manager at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in northern California. On Sept. 11, he was flying back to California after spending the weekend in New Jersey with his family to celebrate his grandmother’s 100th birthday.
Guadagno’s father, Jerry, his sister, Lori, as well as several of his close family and loved ones attended Friday’s ceremony. Jerry and Lori assisted with the release of a rehabilitated juvenile bald eagle on the game lands at the end of the ceremony.
The family sponsors two fellowships in Richard’s name through the Student Conservation Association; one is stationed at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the other is at the National Flight 93 Memorial.
During Friday’s ceremony, Daniel Freed, the Student Conservation Association’s Richard J. Guadagno Fellow at the National Flight 93 Memorial spoke about Richard, saying “his spirit and love for our natural resources is still evident even 20 years after his death.
“He lived his life in a way that makes him impossible to be forgotten. His story didn’t end on Sept. 11. It’s still all around us, whether at Humboldt Bay or this tiny rural piece of Pennsylvania.
“We can look everywhere that there’s a beautiful landscape and we can remember him. Richard’s life of passion and love for learning is worth more than just remembering, it’s a life worth emulating.”
The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s YouTube page. The Pennsylvania Game Commission manages and protects wild birds and wild mammals and their habitats, while promoting hunting and trapping, for current and future generations.