In memorial - Flight 93
I never make it all the way though an article on the first try when the content is about September 11th’s United Airlines Flight 93. Somewhere while reading the article I always stop and put it down or walk away from the computer screen. Then I walk around the house for a few minutes. I’ll make a cup of coffee or give my oldest son a hug… this year I’ll be able to give my youngest son (who’ll be 8 days shy of a month old) a kiss on the cheek or pick him up. I procrastinate in finishing the article.
Writing about this subject is even worse. I’ve typed a few words then repeated the routine… walk around, kiss my wife and sons, make a cup of coffee… maybe even go on-line and make believe that I’m looking for more material to write about while actually avoiding the subject. Writing about this is something that can’t be done in one sitting.
The question is why can’t I endure writing about this for more than 5 minutes at a time? And am I alone when it comes to writing about Flight 93 because out of all the events that happened on September 11th it feels as if it’s the least written about. I might be wrong because we don’t read much about the Pentagon in Washington D.C. loss on September 11th too much, either.
Out of all the stories on September 11th though… this seems to touch me more deeply. We’ve all read the stories about those few passengers on the plane that were able to call home and tell their families what had happened. As soon as the passengers found out that two other planes had struck The World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon and they knew the plane had turned and headed east towards Washington D.C. they knew their situation wasn’t a simple hijacking. They knew the plane they were on was going to be used as a missile just as the others had on that day. Not only were their lives at stake, but so were the lives of countless strangers somewhere in the area. The Capitol Building, the monuments, the White House… they didn’t know but they understood what was at stake and they didn’t want to be remembered as victims who were a part of this horror.
We also know that some of the passengers decided to take the plane back. What is not clear though is if the pilots were killed along with one of the flight attendants when the terrorists first took the plane… there is also no way of knowing what was their intention was if they ever took the plane back from the hijackers.
I’m thinking that through it all I have to ask myself what would I have done if I were in this situation. The phone call to my wife, hearing the news of what already happened, and hearing about other passengers making plans to fight back. Let’s be honest and harsh here… I have a temper that sometimes comes through some of my writing. And let’s also be brutal here, I have no subtlety, I have no patience… I’m the guy who has to put something together right out of the box by going to the last page in the directions and see how it all goes together in the end. I’m creative but I lack the composure to stick to any strategy that I create.
Also, I’m not ready to die. I don’t mean that in a cowardice way and that there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t actually die for. There are plenty of things I would die for: my wife, by two boys, my family. I’m just not ready to die now. Right now things have just started getting GOOD in my life and I don’t want it to end just when I’ve started living. I would like to believe that my anger and rage would take over fueled by the fear of being remembered as a coward that would cause me to do something. My wife said that she knows that I would do something… but she’s afraid that I would do it too soon, half cocked and in too much anger. Anyone who’s read any of my rants or posts knows there’s a bit of truth in that.
To be fair, we all know that each one of us deep inside wants to believe that in the face of danger we would stand up and do the right thing. We also know that there are times when we have and other times when we haven’t. Some of you are wincing right now while remembering some of those times when you should of stood up and didn’t… which is ok. In writing this paragraph I just stood up, walked around the house, kissed my wife after telling her that I loved her and hugged my boys. What just took you half a minute to read took me half a day to write because I’ve tried to avoid the uncomfortable feelings you have now.
The fact is, the people who were on that plane probably felt the same way about life as we do. They were people just like you and I. Doubt what I’m writing? Check out the issue of Reader’s Digest this month and read the article “Flight 93: What I never knew” which was written by one of the widows that was left behind that morning by her husband. It's a four page article which takes me about 45 minutes to read… (again… walk around the house, make a cup of coffee, hug the wife and boys and tell them I love them.) They DID the hard thing during the most unimaginable circumstances. Imagine you just heard on the phone that terror beyond your conception… and you’re about to die because it’s happening again right where you are. That’s what they went through and because the worst DIDN’T happen because the plane never made it to the destination we’ll never know what they prevented. They’re heroes but we’ll never know to what extent.
Jumping gears for a minute, I have to talk about another terror related issue. Here’s an excerpt of an article that I had submitted to both TIME and NEWSWEEK.
July 6th at 2:50pm, one of my wife’s co-workers witnessed Middle Eastern men acting suspiciously while taking photographs of the Stop And Shop in a southeastern Mass suburban town.
On July 20th in Charlotte, North Carolina a man was arrested who had taken video footage of Bank of America Building and the Wachovia Building. He also had other videos with footage of landmark buildings in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas and New Orleans.
On August 10, 2004, my wife and I observed on Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua New Hampshire, a Middle Eastern man filming footage of all of the strip malls and large buildings on this road. The police were called twice, once while the subject was on the road, again when heading into the Pheasant Lane Mall. No officer arrived.
Take for account for a minute that we are indeed living in a free society here in the United States and the majority of the Western world. If you’re reading this article most likely you live in a free society. But why are Middle Eastern men taking video of everyday buildings and traffic patters in this era of “high alerts” and requests from the government to call if we see such suspicious activities? Think of a logical explanation of why this seems to be happening all at once and it’s one group of people who seem to be doing this and not some other ethnic group. Are these intellectual midgets who have a sick sense of humor and we’re being taunted because of our political correctness or is there something more sinister going on?
According to the tapes discovered in the Al-Qaeda training camps, terrorists have been practicing to perpetrate horrors beyond our imagination for years now. Knowing that they have also been surveying new landmarks and shopping centers we can only conclude there is a pending disaster in our immediate future. The most recent bombings of two Russian Airliners, the Moscow subway station on August 30, and the senseless slaughter of children proves what they are capable of. It’s only a matter of time before such attacks occur with in the United States. Putting up a website such as “Ready.Gov” isn’t enough. Local officials have to take immediate steps to actually “get ready”.
The Fedora Chronicles Connection.
In the days after the attack, the country pulled together. There was an obvious tangible feeling that we had all experienced something together here in The United States. It was an event that we all saw at the same time, went through at the same time and we were all shaken by those events. I can still see the faces of the people at the shopping center down the road and their expressions the following Saturday. This was a historical event that effected everyone to one degree or another… all of us were horrified, then angry then ready for action to be taken to prevent this from happening again.
In the past three years The United States has received a lot of criticism for its approach on the war on terror. Some of the censure the US is getting comes from the media and some of the leftist politicians. From across the oceans and through the airwaves the claims are all the same: George Bush rushed into this war on terror with out getting a broader coalition from countries like France, Germany…
All of Europe is in the same boat: if the United States didn’t get involved in the Second World War against Nazi Germany the war would have had a different outcome. More countries would have been seized by the Axis powers and millions more Jews would have died. At the time the United States was criticized for not getting involved and rightly so. 70% of Americans were against any involvement in the war in Europe. Then over night, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, 90% of all Americans were for the war and became involved to end it as quickly as possible.
Three months shy of the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the tables have been turned. I believe the United States OVER LEARNED the lessons of the Second World War: When attacked, strike back quickly and decisively because you don’t know how soon they will strike again.
The gallant hero’s on Flight 93 knew that there wasn’t time for a debate or to fight a “sensitive war” against the hijackers. While they didn’t know what was the planned destination, they knew they had to do something immediately. These brave men and women did the right thing and may have saved hundreds or thousands of others they’ll never know. They did what they should have done and what I hope all of us would do if we were that type of predicament.
What saddens me finally is that on September 11th, many heroes died that day. There were many great acts of bravery and heroism. We have no idea if they were members of our favorite forums because often people leave with out saying good bye… some of them were friends we were meant to make but never had the chance.
The Heroes of Flight 93 personified bravery, heroism and self sacrifice. This Saturday, September 11th, 2004 I would ask all of you to raise your glass and toast “to absent friends”.