Sunday, September 4, 2011

Journal: September 14, 2001

They will be forever known as the men who fought the terrorists on flight 93.
Mark Bingham, a gay man headed back to San Francisco, called his mother on the telephone and said the plane had just been taken over by terrorists and that one of them had a bomb.
Jeremy Glick told his wife that three men, wearing red bandannas had taken over the plane.
CeeCee Lyles had called her husband and sons from the plane saying that three of her fellow attendants had been stabbed.
While people in other planes had reported similar situations, including the murder of flight attendants and passengers, flight 93 was different. It had more facts.
Even the scrambling air force from some base in New York State could not save the passengers of the four planes -- or sooth the panic they suffered as four to five men murdered attendants. One man calling from the toilet in the plane out of Newark claimed the passengers had been herded to the rear of the plane, a hivering collection of frightened sheep misunderstanding the situation.
At first, the passengers must have thought they would remain alive, that the terrorists would take their jet to some remote location, such as cuba, demand money, before setting the passengers free. But once the reports came that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and another had hit the Pentagon, all hope vanished.
This group of passengers traveling out of Newark Airport knew that other planes had struck the World Trade Center. Bingham, Glick and another passenger, Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. said they had to stop the plane somehow.
Burnett claimed that one passenger had been killed for not following the terrorists instructions.
"I know we're all going to die," Burnett told his wife on the cell phone. "There's three of us who are going to do something about it."
"We could take them!" Glick told his wife.
And apparently they did, although the news reports that reached us in the hours following the fall of the World Trade Center, claimed the plane had been shot down, and that four additional planes were still in the air seeking targets. Over our heads in Secaucus, F-16s soared by seeking to stop some craft we could not see.
That's been the problem. The unknown. Where and when the enemy would strike, leaving us all victims, leaving us to look to the sky at each passing plane, thinking it an enemy.
The FAA ordered all the planes in the nation to land. But did then? Would the air force shoot down the ones that didn't. Would one manage to elude their vigilance and find more Americans to kill? Would the passengers in those planes realize in time and stop the terrorists?
Three days after the event, we still shake, even as we learn of the horrendous loss of life from those strikes we could not halt -- the World Trade Center in ruins. The Pentagon still smoldering. Bodies unrecoverable in both. And we, now shivering sheep on the ground wondering what comes next.

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