I was preparing a column on a different topic, but then I saw this, from the New York Times , July 22:
“Flight 93 became part of American lore when passengers banded together to try to storm the cockpit of the hijacked airliner, which crashed in Pennsylvania. New details of the hijacking and the passenger uprising were made public in the report released today by the 9/11 commission.”
“Of the 33 passengers on the plane who were not hijackers, at least 10, and two crew members, spoke to people on the ground. At least five of the calls included discussion of the World Trade Center. At 9:57, about seven minutes before the end, one of the passengers ended her conversation saying: "Everyone's running up to first class. I've got to go. Bye."
"The report indicates that Mr. Jarrah, at the controls of United 93, did what many airline pilots have fantasized about since the hijackings: tried to maneuver the plane sharply, rolling and pitching, to keep control of the cockpit. It apparently did not work; the plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
"The report does not clarify whether the hijackers' goal for Flight 93 was the White House or the Capitol, but indicates that the hijackers tuned a cockpit radio to the frequency of a navigation beacon at National Airport, just across the Potomac River from the capital, erasing any doubt about the region of their intended destination.”
“The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them," according to the report, which seems to indicate that the hijackers themselves crashed the plane.
"With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes' flying time from Washington, D.C," according to the report.”
I don’t know what your plans are, for remembering September 11th’s third anniversary. But at 10:37 AM Eastern time, I will be saluting 33 ordinary people who showed incredible valor and courage in the face of certain death. We will never know how many other lives they saved, but we know what a ‘hero’ looks like in our generation because of them, and others like them. Please visit this website to learn more about them.