But the memorial outside Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed with the loss of 40 passengers and crew members, is still millions short of meeting its $70 million proposed budget.
A gala fundraiser at the Newseum last week, with former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and House Speaker John Boehner delivering remarks, raised $2 million, bringing the gap down to $8 million.
The National Park Foundation, which is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, has raised about $32 million from more than 100,000 contributors.
But it appears that fewer than 10 donations to the Pennsylvania memorial have come either from the 535 members of the House and Senate who were in office on 9/11 or from the 300 others who’ve been elected since. That’s a 1.2 percent participation rate.
Pennsylvania, which had one resident on the plane, has ponied up $18 million, and the federal government has committed $8 million, with an additional $4 million expected at some point from other legislation.
Problem is, tiny Shanksville (pop. 245) lacks the fundraising abilities that were behind the other memorials. No deep-pocketed defense industry or financial industry seems willing to jump in, just an abandoned coal mine. And no family members are from that area — Flight 93 was heading from Newark to San Francisco.
But those soldiers “knew when they signed up that they might die,” Clinton said. The passengers on Flight 93 “didn’t sign up for this.”
“Ten million dollars is not too much to pay” for those who “made a decision to die for us,” Clinton said.
Actually, more specifically, their deaths, according to the 9/11 Commission, saved many of the estimated 5,000 people who were in and around the Capitol that morning, including, let’s see, 535 members of Congress. There were countless staff members, tourists, and surely the ubiquitous lobbyist or two there as well.
And yet, we hear that when the foundation invited lawmakers to join an honorary Flight 93 committee last year, fewer than 25 responded.
“I’m confounded,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (D) told The Loop, by the lack of federal involvement. There are rules against earmarks, he added, but this would certainly be a meritorious exception.
(We’re not even going to mention the horrific al-Qaeda propaganda photos of the Capitol in flames, the cost to replace the irreplaceable, treasured icon of our democracy.)
And $8 million? After spending $621 million for a Capitol visitors center? That $8 million doesn’t even qualify as what they call budget dust. Not even close to that $200 million affront to basic free-market principles that lawmakers approved in February when they voted to subsidize airline passengers at small airports.