Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Flight 93 Memorial

As we approach the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy amidst the deep divisions of our time it is more important than ever to recall the desperate heroism of the Citizen-Warriors who boarded United Flight 93.  They were simply boarding a Boeing 757 to fly from Newark to San Francisco that morning.  The passengers and crew were a diverse cross section of human beings.  Not all were American.  Toshiya Kuge was a 20 year old student from Waseda University in Japan.  Christian Adams was a 37 year old German in the wine trade.  Todd Beamer was a 32 year old father of two who worked for Oracle.  Mark Bingham was a 31 year PR executive who was gay and had played rugby for UC Berkeley.  Hilda Marcin, a 79 year old retired bookkeeper from New Jersey (oldest on the flight), was flying to California to move in with her daughter.  First Officer Leroy Homer and flight attendant Cee-Cee Ross Lyles were black. Deora Frances Bodley, a student at Santa Clara, was the youngest person on that plane.

40 Heroes
Flight 93 Memorial
None of the passengers or crew thought of becoming heroes that morning when they boarded Flight 93 in Newark, New Jersey.   Yet when they were confronted by the reality of violent evil in their midst they rose superbly to the challenge.  In a quintessentially American way, they voted on what course of action to take.  Conversations on Airphones had informed them about the fates of the Twin Towers in Manhattan and the attack on the Pentagon earlier that morning.  They decided to attempt to storm the cockpit attempting to wrestle it form the control of the four Al Qaeda hijackers who had seized the plane about half an hour into the flight.  They struggled with the hijackers who were armed with knives and had already killed a few crew members and passengers.

In America Invaded we wrote this about Flight 93...

"The twenty-first century’s war against terrorism began in the airspace over Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, when combat erupted on United Flight 93.  The Boeing 757, on a regularly scheduled  flight from Newark to San Francisco, had been seized that morning by four Al Qaeda terrorists. Todd Beamer and other passengers, informed of the attacks on the World Trade Center, voted to storm the cockpit.  The plane crashed into the countryside near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, rather than somewhere in the nation’s capital. Today it is a National Memorial preserved by the National Park Service (www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm)."

Captain Parker
Lexington Green, MA
Captain Parker of the Massachusetts militia said at Lexington Green: "If they mean to have a war, let it begin here."  Just as conscripts and volunteers had answered the call in the US Civil War and in both World Wars the men and women of Flight would answer the call to serve their fellow man.

"In the Cockpit.  If We Don't, We'll Die"

At about 10:03 EST Flight 93 slammed into the ground of an abandoned strip mine in western Pennsylvania near Shanksville.  All on board, 7 crew members, 33 passengers and 4 hijackers were instantly killed.

A Common Field one Day.  A Field of Honor Forever.

As a direct result of their actions the US Capitol building or, perhaps the White House, were spared from destruction.  These targets in Washington DC were only about 20 minutes away from the crash site.  Countless lives were saved by the heroic actions of the Citizen soldiers of Flight 93.

Crash site of Flight 93
Today a visitor to the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania, which is just a few miles from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, will find a kind of hallowed battlefield reminiscent of Gettysburg and other sacred spots.  In the airspace above Pennsylvania Americans of all kinds united to fight a common foe.  They were determined to not become passive victims of an evil plot against our country.  They refused to go quietly to their rest.

Todd Beamer's Oracle badge
Flight 93 Memorial
Todd Beamer's battlecry of "Let's Roll" has become an inspiring rallying cry for the American military and intelligence services engaged in various combats around the world.  Our reluctant warriors, our citizen soldiers are, sixteen years later, still engaged in a war on terror in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in Syria.

Travel Notes: I am grateful to Tom McMillan's Flight 93: The Story, the Aftermath and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11 (www.mazn.com/1493009346), to the staff of the Flight 93 Memorial and to all those victims and their families.  Go see the Flight 93 Memorial for yourself and bring Kleenex (www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm)!

Thanks Daily Caller...http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/11/remembering-the-citizen-warriors-of-flight-93/

Listen to my Flight 93 interview with KFAB...www.iheart.com/podcast/139-Scott-Voorhees-27091316/episode/flight-93-28453778/

Signed copies of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil are available here...www.americainvaded.com

Regular copies may be purchased from Amazon...www.amzn.com/0692902406

Or on Kindle...www.amzn.com/B073RJQ8PK

1 comment:

Unknown said...

After reading Morning Prayer at my parish church in Maryland, I am about to toll the bell in public remembrance of those who were slain 16 years ago. Before doing so I decided to refresh my memory on the heroic details of Flight 93 and was happy to find your account first, Commander Kelly! One question for confirmation in due course: is it documented that the group of men who stormed the cockpit joined in the Lord's Prayer before launching their assault?