Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Blog Archive

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Little Chapel / Sept 11th - Part # 3

In the Wake of Tragedy
Visiting the Little Chapel Site

 The Little Chapel
Here is the story of a truly great man, a man who saw a need and began a solo mission to meet that need. Reverend Alphonse T. Mascherino, was a Catholic priest with over twenty years experience, who noticed that there was no place for people to properly morn the loss felt at Shanksville from the September 11th tragedy. Until things were worked out at the crash site, Reverend Mascherino thought he should find or create a proper space where people could gather to mourn their loss. So he started looking for a space that he could buy and fix up into a chapel where visitors could pay their respects to those lost in the crash. (Above - is the completed chapel)

 Hall of Heroes Memorial
Reverend Mascherino found an old building that had once served as a small chapel many years ago but since then had been used as a grain shed for local farmers. The property was in poor repair and looked like it might fall down. Reverend Mascherino thought this was probably his best bet and used his life saving to purchase it. He often likes to say it is the chapel Barbie built because he sold off his collection of rare toys including several vintage Barbie dolls to buy the property! (Above - the completed Chapel Hall of Heroes where each victim is pictured with a short biography)

 Reverend Mascherino's Service
Reverend Mascherino began the mammoth task of slowly fixing up the chapel himself whenever time and funds permitted. Soon others heard what Reverend Mascherino had taken on by himself, were inspired by his project, and decided to join him. Progress began to take place as more and more volunteers arrived to lend a helping hand. Soon local businesses began to get word of the project and started donating building supplies. The little chapel was slowly coming back to life.

 Everyone Pitches In to Help
Then one day Reverend Mascherino was contacted by a large company in the area... 84 Lumber called and offered everything needed to complete the project, including all necessary materials and professional labor. The goal was to have the project completed by the first anniversary of the tragedy and with abundant help, the deadline was a possibility. With a week to go before the targeted deadline, there was still a great deal of work to do but marathon work sessions around the clock, brought the project to completion just in time. On September 11, 2002 the new Flight UA93 Memorial Chapel opened its door to visitors.

 UA93 Memorial Garden
However, the story is not over, United Airlines also felt obligated to remember the fallen members of the flight crew and passengers. They considered building a small memorial of their own but didn't know where to put it. Not wanting to intrude on the actual crash site and not interested in getting tangled up in an already emotionally charged debate over that site, they approached Reverend Mascherino to see if they could somehow include a memorial of their own within the chapel grounds.

 Corner Garden Bench
The result was a beautiful memorial garden created behind the little chapel that became a quiet tribute to the crew and passengers lost on United Airlines flight 93. The memorial is centered around a large marble obelisk that names and pictures the members of the lost crew. On the corners surrounding the center monument are four benches that list the names of the lost passengers. The pathways are surrounded by flowers and plants with individual memorials integrated within the garden plantings. Family members of the lost United Airlines crew often visit and leave behind mementos in memory of their lost loved ones that remain included within the garden.

 WTC Steel Debris Sculpture
Landscape artwork is also included in the tasteful garden, including the sculpture above made from a steel beam from the World Trade Center. Reverend Mascherino conducts secular non-denominational services throughout the year. The chapel is designed to be a spiritual refuge of meditation, reflection, and prayer. Reverend Mascherino is truly an inspirational man and his story touched me deeply. He is living proof of how positive outcomes can often emerge from horrific events when people unite and work together.

 Local Shanksville Support
The chapel is located a few miles from the UA93 crash site at 1790 Coleman Station Road in Friedens, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit their web site at


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