Despite the fact that my posts today have set a heretofore unseen level of frivolity, I haven’t forgotten what day it is. As I was driving my car this morning, I couldn’t help but remember this same morning six years ago. I was in my car just as I was today, driving along without a care in the world when my husband called and asked me if I’d heard the news.
At first I thought he was playing some kind of sick April Fool’s joke, but it didn’t make any sense because it wasn’t April. It was September 11th. And I realized that this was real. Very real.
After we hung up, I turned on the radio and listened, disbelieving, as the first tower fell. Then the second.
I called my mother, who was in her office watching the news coverage on TV. I was on my way to visit a friend in Philadelphia that morning, and when my mother heard my plans, she commanded me to Go Home Right Now and don’t go anywhere near Philly until the danger had passed. I did as she said.
When I remember September 11th, I first think of the pictures on the TV of the burning buildings. I imagine the people in those buildings, people with families, children, mothers, fathers. People facing certain death, jumping out of skyscraper windows because that was more appealing than waiting for their bodies to burn. I think of those who escaped, running terrified through city streets while debris fell around them, trying to make sense out of the unthinkable, trying to make it to safety. I think of their loved ones waiting at home.
And then my mind always turns to United Airlines Flight 93 — the one that crashed in the field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. A plane that was intended for the United States Capitol. A plane that never met its intended target because of ordinary men and perhaps women as well. Civilians who learned through phone calls what was happening elsewhere that morning and put together the pieces of the puzzle to understand that our country was under attack that day. People like you and me who were not going to let one more plane hit its target.
So they took matters into their own hands and took down that plane, aborting the plan of the hijackers. Those men and women will never know that their brave actions that day spared the United States Capitol from destruction and the lives of untold numbers of men and women who would have been caught in the crossfire.
And at that point, I stop. I don’t allow my mind to return to New York City and the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center. It’s not that I want to forget. No one who lived through that day will ever forget.
But I want to focus on the victory.
Yes, United Airlines Flight 93 was a victory that day. Even though we still lost dear American lives, part of those evil plans were thwarted. The 4th part of the mission is forever incomplete.
I am proud of those people, my fellow Americans. I am proud of Todd Beamer and the others who banded together and stood up against the hijackers and basically said, This ends here. You’ve had your day, but the party’s over. It’s not going to happen again. Not on my watch.
That is victory.