Windsor Park Stories

A Special Tribute To Those We Will Never Forget

Three Episodes of Windsor Park Stories to be Screened in Shanksville, PA

The producers of Windsor Park Stories will premier three episodes of their sixth season in Shanksville, PA.

Shanksville, a tiny town of 244 people, was thrust into the national spotlight when the passengers of United Flight 93 decided to resist the terrorist hijackers on September 11, 2001.

During the struggle, the aircraft lost altitude and crashed just outside of Shanksville. None of the passengers and crew survived, but their heroic legacy will live on in the American memory forever.

Tony Mussari and Kitch Loftus, the originators of a weekly television series about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things, visited Shanksville in August. They were there to produce one episode, and they prolonged their stay and produced three episodes and a composite piece.

On September 21, they will screen all of these episodes at the Shanksville United Methodist Church.

Janie Kiehl's story is about a Flight 93 Memorial Ambassador who volunteers to go to the site to help visitors better understand what happened there. Janie is a person who understands the premature death of a loved one in a very special way.

Another episode will enable Chuck Wagner, an experienced heavy equipment driver who volunteered to help clean up the site, to explain the impact that the disaster and his work at the site has had on him and his family.

A third episode will focus on Leigh Snyder, a woman who is trying to publish an elaborate scrapbook to tell the story of the event and her determination to make a permanent record of all that has happened in Shanksville since September 11, 2001.

According to Mussari, "Our What is America? series was conceived while Kitch and I were attending the memorial service for Len Snyder, Jr. We taught his wife at King's College and his dad is our dentist. At the end of the service, we were so overcome with emotion that we could not sing America The Beautiful."

"We left the church with a resolve to do something that would help us make sense of what happened and help the families of the victims."

"Several times we visited the World Trade Center site, and without any credentials we were able to get access to the site and record what was happening there. This resulted in our first episode simply titled, What Is America?"

Encouraged by the positive response to their first episode, What Is America? Mussari and Loftus spent time with the volunteers at "Point Thank You" on the West Side Highway. They worked with a second grade teacher in a suburb of Pittsburgh to record the thoughts of youngsters there.

"We asked her to develop the theme "What Is America?" for her class and through many class assignments, a teleconference and a visit to the classroom before the end of the school year, we were able to obtain another perspective on September 11."

Mussari and Loftus also worked with a teacher and his students at PS 3 in New York, a school located in the shadow of the disaster about a mile from the World Trade Center. There they recorded the thoughts of 10 and 11-year-old students.

To make the episodes come alive they searched their archives for interviews and visuals that touched on the topic, and they discovered wonderful materials including footage of the World Trade Center they shot in 1988 while working on a project for JP Morgan in lower Manhattan.

"I put that footage in a special place after I shot it. I never used it, " said Mussari, "but for some reason I never got rid of it. Now, I know why."

Before school opened in August, Doc and Kitch, as their students and friends know them, completed a marathon shoot in Ohio and western PA.

They visited the Longaberger Basket Company, where they talked to several people about the philosophy of Dave Longaberger. Longaberger was an incredible visionary who built a company by preserving American traditions. He spent a lifetime building a business that honored and preserved the values of small town life.

When they arrived in Shanksville, it was their intention to shoot one Windsor Park Story . So impressed by what they discovered there, they prolonged their stay. They left Shanksville with hours of digital video, hundreds of digital stills, and a determination to tell the stories of three volunteers who are working in different ways to heal the wounds caused by the terrorist attack on America.

Incredible as it may sound, all of this was done without a budget. "It is," said Mussari, "Sheer determination, and a passion to find the stories of people who ordinarily would never get very much, if any, air time to tell their stories.

In addition to the screening, Mussari and a number of out of town guests and a delegation of King's College, Mass Communications seniors will be visiting the temporary memorial to the passengers of United Flight 93.

When asked why they are doing this, Mussari thought for a moment, and with an expression on his face of a person who had just lost his best friend, he said, "Shanksville is a very small town with an enormously important story, and Kitch and I are happy to be able to tell a very small part of that story."

You Are Invited To Attend A Private Screening Of 3 Episodes of Windsor Park Stories Special Series

What Is America?

Janie Kiehl: Reaching Out
Chuck Wagner: Sacred Ground
Leigh Snyder: Curves in the Road

Saturday, September 21, 2002, 7:00 p.m.
Shanksville United Methodist Church

All Are Welcome!

* * *

Back to Windsor Park Stories homepage | Back to Leadernet homepage