Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the worst foreign attack on American soil, ever. Four wide body passenger planes were commandeered by suicidal fanatics and three were flown into iconic American buildings, killing over 3000 men and women. The fourth was a different story.
The heroes on United flight 93 knew what was going to happen when their flight was seized over Pennsylvania. They had heard about the planes hitting the towers and the Pentagon. They knew they were headed for certain death. Most likely even if they ‘did something’ the result would be the same.
As Kylee Zemple writes in the Federalist:
It’s a question we all should ask. None of the ordinary passengers aboard United Flight 93 on that September morning had any idea they would soon be voting whether to try wrestling their flight away from terrorists, meaning their quick, mid-air decision to do so was one they had made long before they boarded the plane, in their principles and everyday habits.
Men like 32-year-old Todd Beamer — a husband, father of two boys with a baby girl on the way, brother, son, account manager, Sunday school teacher, baseball lover, and Christian. Beamer, who was flying for work, was on the morning flight because he had opted to spend the prior night with his family instead of taking the evening flight.
Like others aboard the flight, Beamer tried to call his wife from a credit card payphone on the back of one of the seats, but his call went instead to customer service and ultimately to airphone supervisor Lisa Jefferson, who would later describe him as “a soft-spoken, calm gentleman.” Jefferson talked with Beamer, prayed with him, and later relayed his parting words of love to his wife and children — and his final candid words of bravery to the rest of the world: “Let’s roll.”
Heroes like Todd Beamer don’t suddenly appear, but are forged in the lives they lead. People who knew Todd had no doubt he would lead the charge that would put United 93 on the ground and not in the Capitol building. America in the latter half of the 20th century and the history that came before, was the crucible in which Todd Beamer grew up. It followed on the “Greatest Generation” and the Todd Beamers were everywhere, across the street, down the block, sitting beside you on your next flight.
What has the last 20 years done to us. Somehow we came to tolerate death and destruction. People are killed daily in our cities and we do nothing. We celebrate the criminals that take innocent lives and release them to kill again. We accept horrors with a shrug and cower in our living rooms behind smart phones and tv screens. We demand others sacrifice as we hide in fear from an endemic virus. All for our own comfort.
If that is what we have become, then when we ask the question that began this piece, the answer must be a resounding and sniveling NO!
We can only pray that when the moment arrives, we will have the strength to join Todd Beamer and storm that cockpit. If not, all is lost.
As we near another anniversary of that dark September day, don’t just remember the heroes. Strive to be like them.