Biden signs support for 9/11 trail, which encompasses C&O Canal, GAP

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Oct. 17—CUMBERLAND, Md. — President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation Wednesday to designate the "September 11th National Memorial Trail," a route linking the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Don Beyer (D-Va.). The bill previously passed the House of Representatives 423-0 and in the Senate by unanimous consent.

"In the Oval Office, as we continue to honor the 20th anniversary of September 11th, President Biden brought us one step closer to making this vision for the 9/11 National Memorial Trail a reality," said Connolly. "The September 11 National Memorial will serve a particularly significant role — honoring the families and loved ones who were victims of the attack, and the heroes who saved countless lives on such a tragic day."

The Memorial Trail encompasses the C&O Canal Towpath and portions of the Great Allegheny Passage, which connect in Cumberland. According to Ashli Workman, Allegany County tourism director, the legislation enables the Department of the Interior to assist in developing the trail route, signage, interpretive guides and educational materials.

"The September 11th National Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile living Trail of Remembrance to honor those heroes of that day," said David Brickley, founder and president emeritus of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance. "The 9/11 Trail was a 20-year effort envisioned immediately after the horrendous events of Sept. 11, 2001 as a way to honor those who gave their all on that tragic day. It is designed as an unbroken triangle connecting the three national monuments at New York City, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The federal designation will ensure that as all enjoy the trail and greenway, they will also have an opportunity to reflect on the resilience and perseverance of America as a country and people."

Workman said the nonprofit September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance will continue to lead the effort to develop the trail and raise money to complete off-road sections. Currently, the 9/11 memorial trail is a patchwork of about 55% off-road trails and 45% existing roads that connect the three 9/11 memorial sites.

According to a press release on the signing, the National Memorial Trail passes through some of the most beautiful and historic parts of the United States. Starting at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, the trail will extend northwest to the Flight 93 National Memorial. It will then continue east to New York City's National September 11 Memorial and Museum. It then heads south following the East Coast Greenway connecting to the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection. It then connects to the National Mall in Washington D.C. and ultimately returns to the Pentagon Memorial.

Jeff McCauly, director of trail development for the Alliance, spoke to the Times-News by phone.

"President Biden's signature offers an additional level of support through the National Park Service," said McCauly. "The bill designates that the 9/11 Trail that it is now known to the NPS.

"We will continues to work with our partners and stakeholders to develop as much of the trail off-road as possible. This 9/11 Trail will be able to provide a way to reflect and remember the heroes associated with 9/11. It serves as a reminder of the events that occurred and the heroism that took place that day."

Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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