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Flight 93 National Memorial: A Personal Reflection

Flight 93 National Memorial: A Personal Reflection

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On December 7, I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. While I did not intend to visit it on the Pearl Harbor anniversary, it was an eerie coincidence. Just as the Japanese bombing precipitated our entry in the Second World War, so did the hijacking of four flights on 9-11-2001 launch our nation’s protracted war against terror.memorial tribute

As I exited the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I was struck by how rural the environs were. As my GPS guided me to the Memorial, the vistas opened up with rolling hills, fields, and forests. It was a cold and windy day but the skies were clear, similar to that distant September day in 2001. The visibility extended for miles in all directions.

The visitor center is at the end of a mile or so drive into the 2,200-acre property. A slate walkway leads from the parking lots to the curved stone building, with three separate engraved stones marking the three flights that crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Designed by Paul and Milena Murdoch, the building offers a series of video, audio exhibits and artifacts detailing the history behind Flight 93 that day, including the crew and passengers, their determination to regain control of the cockpit, and the deliberate nearby crash by the hijackers.

Part of the design places it under the final flight path, including an observation platform overlooking the crash site and final resting place for all who perished. You can walk to the site from the visitor center on a curved path approximately a mile long, though I chose to drive due to the temperature and wind. That area is noted by a long stone wall engraved with the names of the passengers and crew, separating the field from the walkway and rest of the park. A boulder, visible from the wall, was placed at the crash site.

Visiting the Memorial poignantly evoked memories for me of that fateful day when our nation’s sense of security was breached forever. I was surprised that the Oracle ID card of passenger Todd Beamer survived the crash and was part of the exhibits. His last words, “Let’s roll,” were broadcast throughout America in the days and weeks post 9-11 as a call to action. Anyone like me who visits the Memorial will undoubtedly “never forget.”

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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