09/11/2013 12:15 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

Never Forget: The Flight 93 National Memorial

Today the nation pauses to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001. For the National Park System, the focus turns to Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. The Flight 93 National Memorial is a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93. Their heroic actions ultimately caused their hijacked plane to crash before reaching its intended target of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Like all of America's national parks, the Flight 93 National Memorial honors and preserves our country's rich history.

As we observe the twelfth anniversary of September 11, the National Park Foundation announced that, through the commitment of the Flight 93 Partners and the support of over 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations, the $40 million in private funds needed for the establishment, design and primary construction of the memorial has been raised.

While this benchmark concludes the National Park Foundation's national capital campaign, our work is not done. The Foundation has helped to establish a local philanthropic organization, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, which will continue to fundraise and provide ongoing support to the Memorial, supplying critical help for the operational needs and programmatic opportunities. These organizations, often made up of volunteer staff passionate about supporting their community's national park, are a vital lifeline of support for the National Park System.

As the Congressionally-chartered philanthropic partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation has been proud to lead the private fundraising efforts to establish and build the Memorial, ensuring its place in American history will be forever protected and passed on to future generations.

The Flight 93 National Memorial capital campaign is just one example of the Foundation's 45 years of commitment in support of America's national parks and the National Park Service.

This year alone, the Foundation will award $16M in support to the parks. Through grants to over 150 parks, the National Park Foundation will reach nearly 100,000 people, fostering vital connections to their national parks. These strategic grants provide critical transportation for schools and youth groups, enabling 30,000 students access parks from coast to coast; they allow teachers in all 50 states to embrace national parks as classrooms and centers for active learning; and restore and improve 250 miles of waterways and trails, further connecting parks to communities and promoting healthy lifestyles.

All of this work is a testament to the commitment of the American people to protect our shared legacy. As we reflect on the tragic events of September 11, we can be proud of the steps we have taken to preserve yet another chapter of the American story. Today, the Flight 93 National Memorial stands alongside 400 national parks across the country -- each with a vital story to tell. Together, we ensure these stories live on for generations and fulfill our resolute promise -- we will never forget.