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'This trail tells the story of America' | 9/11 National Memorial Trail remembers those who lost their lives

There is a new effort to designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail as a national tourist route.

WASHINGTON — As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches this year, many people plan to visit the memorials in D.C., New York and Shanksville, Pa.

David Brickley, the founder of the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, started working on the trail nearly 20 years ago. 

"This trail tells the history and the story of America and the story of 9/11. It's a trail of remembrance," said Brickley.

The crash sites are connected by a memorial trail that honors the men and women who lost their lives that day. The 1,300-mile trail goes through six states and the District of Columbia.

"History has a way of not being remembered by so many people, unfortunately, and I wanted to make sure that did not happen. This trail tells the history and the story of America," said Brickley.

The trail is a partnership between the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, National Park Service, as well as state and local governments.

On Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place to officially open a new section of the trail just west of Shanksville, the site of the Flight 93 Memorial.

"It’s meant to be enjoyed but it’s also meant to reflect on what America is all about and what happened on that fateful day," said Brickley.

Credit: 9/11 National Memorial Trail

Brickley remembers working at the state building in Richmond, Va. when the first plane hit the towers.

"It was a very visceral feeling for me. I love our country and I’ve tried to represent it the best I can and to see this happen and to find out how it unfolded before and how it happened, it hit home very personally," said Brickley.

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, there is a new effort to designate the September 11 National Memorial Trail as a national tourist route.

A federal designation will provide the trail with added resources, signage and recognition. 

"First of all, it will ensure that the trail is there for generations to come. Then with the support of the National Park Service, it will also be able to increase visibility. It will let the National Park Service be the vehicle to tell the story of 9/11," said Brickley.

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The bipartisan legislation to authorize the national route designation was introduced by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Democrat Gerald E. Connolly and Don Beyer representing Virginia.

The legislation process will lead the way for the Secretary of Interior to be able to authorize the designation as a national tour route that links the three 9/11 national memorials in Shanksville, Pa., New York City and in Arlington, Va.  

The legislation is expected to go to President Biden to sign this September, just before the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

"President Biden could sign this into legislation on or about September 11th. What a fitting tribute to honor those heroes of 9/11," said Brickley.

Representative Don Beyer said this trail designation is a bipartisan effort over a story that has united us all.

"These are difficult times, the country is really divided so anything we can find that we can do together as part of healing us. We all talk about how people in America are operating on different sides of facts and different stories, well here’s a story that unites us all," said United States Representative Don Beyer.

To help support the September 11th National Memorial Trail, click here.

Credit: 9/11 National Memorial Trail