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Windsor Park Stories


SHANKSVILLE, PA


WINDSOR PARK STORIES SCREENING IN SHANKSVILLE, PA, CALLED A GLORIOUS EVENT

They came to Shanksville from five states including Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Together a group of students, parents and teachers from the Mass Communications Department at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, joined Doug MacMillan, his wife, Chivon, and their infant son, Adam, for a day of remembrance and reflection in Shanksville, PA.

And what a day it was. Glorious, magnificent, as close to perfection as we will ever see, that is the way the trip to Shanksville, and the Windsor Park Stories premiere of Doug Macmillan's "What Is America?" episode are being described by those who participated in the events.

"It was a day like no other for me," said Matt Bogus who built a website he called "The Shanksville Experience." "Everything I did last year when we built the web site takes on a very special meaning now that I have seen the site and met the MacMillans." (www.kings.edu/masscomm/index.html)

The day began with a group meeting at the Holiday Inn in Somerset PA. There, Dr. Anthony J. Mussari, Chairman of the Mass Comm Department at King's College and his wife, Kitch Loftus-Mussari, coordinators of the trip, briefed the group and connected every student with an adult partner. These teams of virtual strangers spent the rest of the day together, and "What a day it was," said Lauren Barrett, of Oxford, Connecticut.

Together the groups drove to the Temporary Memorial to the Victims of Flight 93. They participated in a community dinner at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, and they attended the premiere of Doug MacMillan's Windsor Park Story, "Heroic Choices" in the United Methodist Church in Shanksville.

Shortly after the first Heroic Choices retreat, Patrick Romano who coordinated the Beamer Foundation activities at the Merrill Lynch Corporate Retreat Center in Plainsboro, New Jersey brought MacMillan together. "I just felt that the work Doug MacMillan was doing was tailor made for Windsor Park Stories. It is inspirational and it gives hope to children," said Romano.

It was the first time I found someone who, in my mind, was worthy of a Windsor Park Story, and I wanted Doc to meet Doug.

Dr. Mussari and his wife, Kitch, produce Windsor Park Stories for WVIA TV in Northeastern Pennsylvania. (www.windsorparkstories.com) The show features ordinary people whose stories give hope and inspiration to viewers. Doug MacMillan's episode is part of a special group of Windsor Park Stories that comprise the Mussari's "What Is America Series?"

The Mussaris shot the first episode of their series in Shanksville in August 2001. They hade produced 14 What Is America? episodes, and they screen episodes in Shanksville every September.

This year's screening featured three episodes: Christmas at the Site, an impressionistic look at the temporary memorialsite on a bitter cold December day; The Picture, the story of the woman who took the only digital picture five seconds after Flight 93 crashed just outside of Shanksville; and Heroic Choices the first part in a three part series on Doug MacMillan and the work of the Todd M. Beamer Foundation.

For the Zikors of Plains, PA, it was an inspirational and rewarding experience. The stories that were told made one proud to be an American.

After the screening, Macmillan and his wife were presented with a number of gifts including checks totaling $1,000 for the foundation.

McMillan said that the day was a very special day of healing for himself, his wife and their friend John Werth. It was MacMillan's first visit to the site and the impact zone, and he told those attending the screening that he would be honored to return to Shanksville with Dr. Mussari, Kitch and his students every year they hold a screening in Shanksville.

MacMillan urged the students to do things with their lives that will make a difference in the lives of other people. "You don't have to be a hero on an airplane the way Todd was to make a difference," MacMillan told the group.

Erin Clarke, a Mass Comm major from Ashley, PA, rose to her feet after the screening and explained that her family lost a relative who was a NY fireman on September 11. "When I think of what I have experienced today in Shanksville," said Clarke, "I can think of only one word, love."

"The screening was the high point of the day for me," said Erin Moran of Philadelphia. I am so glad I came. It gives me a much better understanding of what happened here on September 11."

For Chuck Wagner, one of the Flight 93 Ambassadors who hosted the day's events, "It was a truly wonderful weekend. I don't know of anything that could be changed to have made it any better."

Three other Flight 93 Ambassadors, Janie Kiehl, Jayne Wagner and Leigh Snyder, were hosts for the Windsor Park Stories Screening in Shanksville. Assisting at the community dinner were Janie Kiehl's three daughters and Jane Wagner's two daughters.

Dr. Mussari can be reached at tmussari@aol.com

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