Twenty years ago today…
We are all going to hear a lot of that today, as the nation comes together to commemorate the attack on Sept 11th of 2001 in New York, Washington D.C., and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I hope there will be a number of articles in the coming days and weeks that will take the time to explore where we are as a nation, two decades after these attacks. Today is not the day for this analysis, though.
On this day, the nation pauses to reflect on what exactly happened on what should have been a routine day across America but turned into a pivotal event — not just in our country but across the globe. The images of the Twin Towers on fire and collapsing, and of the gaping hole at the Pentagon, after hijacked planes struck and ultimately killed thousands, are seared into anyone’s memory who was watching that day.
Yet the fourth plane the was hijacked and eventually crashed was not in a major city, and there were no T.V. cameras to catch the immediate aftermath like the events in New York and at the Pentagon. United 93 crashed in the quiet fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the lives that were lost were of those on the plane itself. The crew of seven and the 33 passengers along with the four terrorists all perished when the plane went down in that field and did not reach Washington, D.C., as planned.
My interest and fascination with what happened with this flight are in no way meant to diminish my awe and appreciation for all those that rushed to help others in New York and the Pentagon. If the #Woke crowd is so hell-bent on tearing down statues, I would suggest they be replaced with ones honoring any of those firefighters or police officers that sacrificed their lives to save others. I’m sure that would be frowned upon, because we must defund the police or some other nonsense.
When Flight 93 took off from Newark at 8:42 a.m. that fateful morning it was running behind schedule by about 25 minutes, which is just four minutes before American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into World Trade Center North Tower. Just 17 minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 is flown into the World Trade Center South Tower, while Americans were watching live footage of the North Tower burning. It became obvious this was on purpose, and we were under attack.
When calls starting coming from United 93 to loved ones on the ground around 9:37 a.m. to let them know they had been hijacked, the terrifying news that those on the plane learned was that other planes had been crashed into landmark buildings. Word spread on that plane that their fate was sealed unless they did something. They had to fight back.
That is exactly what they did.
In one of the most American things ever done, passenger Jeremy Glick, who had contacted his wife with an Airfone at 9:37 a.m., informed her that some of the passengers were talking about what to do and prepared to vote on a plan.
Passenger Todd Beamer at 9:44 a.m. tells a GTE operator he has contacted details of what the hijackers have done with the captain and co-pilot, and that he and others on the plane are going to act to not let their fate be the same of the other hijacked planes.
When flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw contacts her husband at 9:50 a.m., she informs him that a plan is being discussed which includes rushing the hijackers with hot water from a coffee pot to get into the cockpit to remove the terrorist flying the plane.
The Airfone operator hears passenger Todd Beamer at 9:55 a.m. say, ” Are you guys ready? Okay, let’s roll.” Then flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw tells her husband, two minutes later, she has to go, being they are going to rush the cockpit. At that point, they only had six minutes left to live.
At approximately 10:03 a.m. on that clear morning, in a field that the country had never heard of, Flight 93 crashed, ending the last threat to any American buildings and the innocent people within them.
I imagine that every first responder or soldier that was part of that day in New York and at the Pentagon had years of training for an event or something like this day — and that does not mean they were not brave. They went above and beyond the call of duty.
Yet, I’m not a trained first responder, I’m just a guy who has bought airline tickets in the past and sat there and did what I was told, to get from destination A to B as smoothly as possible. Would I have had the guts to respond in this manner, like the heroes on Flight 93 did?
Think of it this way. In less than 30 minutes, regular people who have been informed of horrific news on a plane are told that their plane is going to most likely suffer a similar fate. In less than a half-hour, they devise a plan to not wait for someone to save them, but to act to make sure they are not part of mass murder. Even if that means they will die anyway, they are not going to sit by and let evil win easily.
They fought back, and they saved lives — knowing that their lives would probably end as a result.
This scenario has played in my head ever since I read about the heroics on this flight, and I hope that I would be one-tenth as brave as these people were. Just 40 people who did not know each other that well, who, in a short span of time, foiled years of training by sheer evil-doers.
What would you do?
Going forward my sincere hope for this country is that we continue to help create more people like those on Flight 93 and the first responders who sacrificed their lives that day or in the years after the 9-11 attacks. We need more of them and less of those who need to be coddled over feelings hurt for the smallest infraction.