On this 9th year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I would like to recount my view of one group of heroes on that day: the passengers of flight 93.
I remember a friend of mine telling me the story. My neighbor filled me in on the details I could not extract from news. “Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane disappeared over Pennsylvania. They think it was shot down by the Air Force.”
I had heard several less-than-brilliant observations by news reporters. One said that a fire chief of 30 years had, “never seen anything like it”. This was after the two towers collapsed. Another speculated that the pilots might not have been at the controls. I wondered what threat that newscaster might have thought would compel a hijacked jet-liner’s pilot to crash himself and his passengers into a skyscraper. I was certain the pilot was not anywhere near his seat when the jet crashed.
So I was skeptical of the flight 93 shoot-down theory. “Was that after the others crashed?”, I asked my neighbor? “Yeah, about a half hour after the second one hit the trade center.” “I think they figured it out”, I said.
It seemed obvious to me that some planes could have been hijacked by tricking the passengers into thinking that they had a way out, that they might make it home that day. But once passengers found out the fate of the other hi-jacked flights the promise of a few more breaths would not have been enough to make them take part in mass murder. They would not have wanted to live just long enough to see the people in the buildings they would crash into.
These men and women of Flight 93, in the space of a few minutes, learned of the threat and then became the first concerted response against the attackers of 9/11. That is an incredible decision to make on your way to work.
Osama Bin Laden and the 19 hijackers were motivated by indoctrination and Old World mysticism which they think makes their will stronger. When I think of the passengers of Flight 93 willfully taking action that would bring down the jet they were on I am reminded of Ernst Hanfstaengl, confidant of Hitler and ally of FDR. He once said, “Democracy has no convictions for which people would be willing to stake their lives.”
The heroic passengers of Flight 93 remind us that free people have their own convictions which slave servants or slave kings can never comprehend.