By Pat Louise
The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Edward Porter Felt boarded a plane intending to do a quick business trip in San Francisco.
Felt, a Clinton Central School Class of 1977 graduate and two months shy of his 42nd birthday, had arranged the trip the day before. He never made it to San Francisco; instead, he, 32 other passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers died when United Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
Nineteen years later, Felt will be given a permanent memorial in the Clinton Foundation Memorial Brick Garden on the school grounds. An engraved bench and a stone from the field in Shanksville will be part of the dedication unveiling Friday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.
Bill Huther, Paul Reilly, Peter Goodfriend and Skip Beardsall, with support and input from Clinton Superintendent Steve Grimm, have led the effort to remember Felt with a memorial in the Brick Garden. Felt’s mother, Shirley, and brother Gordon, have also been involved.
Huther and Reilly said last week the original dedication plan has to be scaled back due to Covid-19 restrictions. The ceremony will include local veterans groups and fire departments, speakers and music from Clinton students. Gordon Felt, who as president of the Families of Flight 93 group helped lead the effort for the memorial in Pennsylvania, will be the featured speaker.
The day will begin with four calls of the Clinton Fire Department whistle to mark the times the four planes crashed:
8:46:40: Flight 11 crashes into the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. The aircraft enters the tower intact.
9:02:57: Flight 175 crashes into the south face of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85.
9:37:46: Flight 77 crashes into the western side of The Pentagon.
10:03:11: Flight 93 is crashed by its hijackers as a result of passengers, including Felt, attempting to enter the cockpit.
After the 10:03 whistle, Stone Church will play the Dr. Sam Pellman composition “Tower of Voices”. St. James and St. Mary's churches will sound their bells for 30 seconds.
Pellman, a professor of music at Hamilton College at the time of his death in November 2017, designed the pitch for the Flight 93 National Memorial Tower of Voices, a 93-foot tall tribute that includes 40 wind chimes.
Huther said the whistle and bells will be a reminder of what happened 19 years ago. “It’s a time to reflect on that morning,’’ he said.
He and Reilly said the plans for a scholarship in Felt’s name have been delayed because of the coronavirus. The dedication in the Brick Garden will be the kickoff to spend the next year raising money for what the committee hopes is an annual scholarship to a Clinton student.
“We’re giving ourselves a year to do that,’’ Huther said. “We’ll have it be part of the 2021 Sept. 11 tribute, which is the 20th anniversary.’’
Despite the regulations from the pandemic, Friday’s event will be a special one, Reilly said. “It’s going to be nice,’’ he said, “and a good way to honor a hero.’’
Felt and others aboard Flight 93, having heard about the crashes into the World Trade Center Towers and Pentagon, tried to regain control of the plane from the terrorists. Their heroic efforts were recorded in phone calls made from the plane. The 9/11 Commission believed that Flight 93's target was either the United States Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C.
Grimm said the memorial gives a visual reminder of the many sacrifices made that day and how the community is meaningfully connected to it through Edward Felt. “We will be able to use this memorial to help educate future generations about September 11th, and about how we come together as a community and nation to recognize and celebrate our heroes; in this case, one of our own, Edward Porter Felt,” Grimm said in a statement.
Donations can be made to support the Memorial and the Felt scholarship by sending a check to the CCSD Foundation, PO Box 215, Clinton, NY 13323 or make a donation at the Foundation website, ccs.edu/domain/28