Final push on funds for memorial honoring United Flight 93 passengers is underway


Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, third from left, leads the groundbreaking Tuesday for the Flight 93 National Memorial’s visitor center. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
Al Kamen
Columnist September 10, 2013

When last we checked, back in May 2012, the memorial outside Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11 , 2001, was a whopping $8 million short of meeting its proposed $70 million budget.

The National Park Foundation, the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, has closed the gap to about $1.5 million and has raised more than $40 million from 110,000 contributors. (The rest of the money has come from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and federal coffers.)

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

The capital fundraising campaign has been completed, foundation officials announced Monday, but that didn’t include $1.5 million for the “Tower of Voices,” the site’s signature feature, as well as some educational programs. The tower would stand 93 feet high and include 40 wind chimes — one for each of the passengers and crew members on Flight 93.

We should note that the memorial to victims at the Pentagon was completed five years ago. The World Trade Center Memorial was completed on Sept. 11, 2011. Shanksville, without the deep-pocketed defense industry here or the financial industry in New York, has struggled to raise the money to complete work there, though the memorial is open to visitors.

Now, let’s see, were it not for the heroic actions of the passengers and crew, many of the estimated 5,000 people in and around the Capitol 12 years ago today would have been killed or injured.

That would include countless Hill staff members and tourists and surely a substantial number of well-heeled lobbyists. Oh, and a fair number of the 535 members of Congress who were up there as well. (Both houses were in session at the time.)

But it appears that well fewer than 15 contributions have came from lawmakers who were there that day or the 300 who have been elected to the House and Senate since then.

So more than 30 uniformed flight attendants walked the halls of Congress on Tuesday, dropping off letters appealing for help from each member, most all of whom are strong supporters of voluntary giving.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants and other unions are also re-soliciting their combined 100,000 members for a final push to close the funding gap and finish the memorial.

Swizzle-stick history

Forget the watery drinks so often served on the Washington gala circuit. At the OSS Society’s annual awards dinner Oct. 26, the cocktails will be overseen by Colin Field, the head bartender at the Hotel Ritz, who’s known as one of the world’s leading mixologists.

He’ll be there to lead a toast to the liberation of the Hotel Ritz in Paris at the end of World War II by Ernest Hemingway, Col. David Bruce and members of the French resistance. According to the OSS Society, which celebrates the history of the CIA’s forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services: “When they arrived at the Hotel Ritz shortly after the Nazis had fled the hotel, the manager asked Hemingway if there was anything he could do for them. Hemingway said: ‘How about 75 dry martinis?’ ”

But the drinks apparently weren’t very good. In his memoir, “OSS Against the Reich,” Bruce wrote that the fabled hotel’s bartender had already left the building.

That’s why the society invited a pro to the event this month — to prevent a similar mishap while they honor Adm. William McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. (McRaven, we recall, might prefer an energy drink called Rip It. Not shaken, not stirred, doesn’t even have to be cold.)

Also on the agenda is a musical tribute to Marlene Dietrich, who recorded songs for the OSS’s propaganda efforts.

Texas, only peachier

Everything’s bigger in Texas: belt buckles, hairdos, Stetson hats — even political action committees.

A new group combines fundraising efforts for nearly every Republican member of the Lone Star State’s delegation, according to a new FEC filing. The souped-up PAC is called “Texans for Texans.” Couldn’t be any more Texas. If it spoke, it would have a twang.

But here’s one distinctly non-Texan aspect of the new organization: it’s based in Georgia. Athens, to be precise. Which is a good thousand miles or so from Austin.

According to the “statement of organization” filed with the Federal Election Commission, the group’s mailing address is in Athens, Ga., the same place where its treasurer and designated agent are located (neither of whom returned the Loop’s calls).

So, maybe don’t mess with Georgia, either?

Moving on up

The White House on Tuesday announced more than two dozen nominations for various senior positions, including Heather Higginbottom to be deputy secretary of state — the first woman named to that job.

In March, Secretary of State John Kerry named Higginbottom, who was his legislative director in the Senate from 1999 to 2004, to be counsel at State. She was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget at the time.

Under the two-deputy arrangement at Foggy Bottom, Higginbottom would be replacing Tom Nides, who left in March to return to Morgan Stanley.

Other nominees:

●Jim Shelton, formerly with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and at the Education Department since 2009, to be deputy secretary of education.

●Sloan Gibson, head of the USO and a former bank executive, to be deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

●Beth Cobert, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., to be deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

●John Carlin — former chief of staff and senior counsel to FBI Director Robert Mueller and now the acting assistant attorney general for national security, to move up to assistant secretary for that division.

●Puneet Talwar, National Security Council senior director for Iran, Iraq and the gulf states, to be assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.

●Michael Lumpkin, a special assistant to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to be assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and low-intensity conflict.

●Christopher Smith — now principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department and before that a top official with Chevron Global Gas — to move up to assistant secretary.

●And last, but hardly least, Obama campaign mega-bundler George Tsunis, founder and chairman of Chartwell Hotels, to be ambassador to Norway.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoop.

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