What better place to display decisiveness than at the hallowed ground in western Pennsylvania where the Sept. 11 heroes of Flight 93 perished?

Gov. Rendell acted promptly and properly this week to defuse an unpleasant controversy over paying for security at the crash site.

On Tuesday, the governor pledged $120,000 to safeguard the tract of land near Shanksville in Somerset County. That means the thousands of visitors to the temporary memorial overlooking the site will not be asked to drop their spare change into a donation box.

Facing mounting security costs of $10,000 a month, the owner of the site, Mike Svonavec, triggered a brouhaha June 2 when he decided to seek the public's help. It proved to be an ill-conceived appeal for charity - although it did prompt the governor to step up with a better solution.

Behind the coin-box controversy is a bigger scandal, though: Federal funding for security was allowed to run out in February. While the National Park Service has an agreement with the landowner to run the memorial, security costs are not included.

Talk about misplaced priorities: Of the billions of dollars spent pursuing the Bush administration's "war on terror," how difficult would it be for the White House and Congress to free up the relative pittance needed to protect the Shanksville memorial site?

For now, the hope is that Rendell's action will help mend hurt feelings on the part of the families of the 40 passengers and crew who died trying to disrupt 9/11 terrorists' plans to crash the plane in Washington, D.C.

The families' unease over the appeal for donations was understandable on many levels. First and foremost, they're concerned about anything that smacks of commercialism at what is, after all, a burial ground. Second, the security fund-raising could have detracted from the core campaign to raise money to create a $58 million national park and permanent monument in Shanksville.

The coin-box controversy also highlights the slow progress of Park Service talks with landowners to assemble 1,300 acres for the memorial. Landowners and federal officials can best honor the dead of Flight 93 by redoubling their efforts to reach agreement.

Go to www.honorflight93.org for information about the memorial.