Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flight 93

If I could be anywhere for the 9/11 observances this weekend, it would be at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, PA.  There were uncounted acts of valor on 9/11, most unknown to us. But these 40 passengers & crew we do know. We know what they did. They refused to be victims. They all died - they had no chance -  but only they, of all the passengers on the four hijacked  jets, were given the opportunity to decide the circumstances. They wouldn't die crashing into the Capitol or White House.

Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport. I lived six miles away directly in line with the runway. It took off at 8:42, 4 minutes before Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. I may have heard it fly overhead as I was  watching Good Morning, America, , just before the first news bulletin.

Flight 93 poses several what ifs? of 9/11. What if the hijackers of Flight 93 had not inexplicably delayed their takeover of the plane until passengers learned of the fates of the other three jets? What if the terrorists on any of the other three jets had also delayed their hijackings?

The courage of the passengers on Flight 93, their determination to stop the terrorists' plans, is one of the great heroic moments in American history, which is filled with such moments. We can believe that passengers on the other three jets would have done the same. The 40 people commemorated at Shanksville represent not only  all the acts of valor that happened on 9/11, but also all the acts of valor that would have happened had people been given the chance to perform them.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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