September 10, 2003

A Year Ago Today: Hallowed Ground

Dave Barry writes about Gettysburg, hallowed ground, and Flight 93:

Eleven-Score and Six: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: ...But they did not give up. As they were saying goodbye, they were gathering information. They learned about the World Trade Center towers. They understood that Flight 93 was on a suicide mission. They figured out what their options were.

Then they organized.

Then they fought back.

In "Among the Heroes," a riveting book about Flight 93, New York Times reporter Jere Longman reports many of the last words spoken to loved ones on the ground by people on the plane. They're not the words of people in shock, people resigned to whatever fate awaits them. They're the words of people planning an attack. Fighters.

Here, for example, are the last words of passenger Honor Elizabeth Wainio to her stepmother: "They're getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Goodbye."

Here are flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw's last words to her husband: "We're going to throw water on them and try to take the airplane back over. Phil, everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye."

And of course there are the now-famous words of Todd Beamer, who, after explaining the situation on the plane to an Airfone supervisor in Illinois, turned to somebody near him and said: "You ready? OK, let's roll."...

[W]hatever happened, we know two things for sure:

We know that the plane went down before it reached its target - that the hijackers failed to strike a national symbol, a populated area. They failed.

And we know that the people on the plane fought back. On a random day, on a random flight, they found themselves - unwarned, unprepared, unarmed - on the front lines of a vicious new kind of war. And somehow, in the few confusing and terrifying minutes they had, they transformed themselves from people on a plane into soldiers, and they fought back. And that made them heroes, immediately and forever, to a wounded, angry nation, a nation that desperately wanted to fight back.

And now these heroes lie here, in this field where their battle ended. This cemetery. This battlefield. This hallowed ground.

Posted by DeLong at September 10, 2003 12:01 AM | TrackBack

Comments

You know, in all the idiocy that has gone on in the subsequent two years and all the exploitation of the victims, I sometimes find I almost forget how incredibly much I admire those people on Flight 93. They showed unadulterated bravery and optimism and will forever be symbols to me of the greatness of humanity.

Posted by: Magenta on September 10, 2003 09:22 AM

This is Dave's best work, from what I've seen. Didn't know he had it in him. Not, perhaps, up to Mr. Lincoln's eloquence, but not too shabby, nonetheless.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on September 10, 2003 02:58 PM

I’ve nothing to add, but it seems important to sign up under Dave Barry’s decent and dignified attempt to do justice to the occasion rather than under Chris Hitchen’s ego trip.

Posted by: James Wimberley on September 11, 2003 05:42 AM
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