By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
It is with great pain that I revisit the events of 9/11/2001. I recall the shock and disbelief I felt when I flipped on a television and saw the second plane fly into New York’s Twin Towers. When another plane hit the Pentagon, I feared that a subsequent attack would directly impact my family. It felt as if there was no safe place to hide.
What I did not know until later was the heroism that took place in the skies above Pennsylvania, not all that far from my home.
Deena Burnett recounts how her husband, who was aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, related the situation aboard the aircraft as he spoke on the phone to her.
“We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane.” Deena implored her husband not to put himself in any more danger, but he replied, “If they’re going to crash this plane, we’re going to have to do something.”
Meanwhile, a Verizon Airfone operator, Lisa Jefferson, recalled her talk with another passenger, Todd Beamer.
She could hear the commotion on board the plane, including the screams of a flight attendant. Jefferson offered to connect Beamer with his wife, who was pregnant with their third child. But Beamer hedged, not wishing to upset his wife. He told Jefferson, though, that she could call his wife if something happened.
Beamer then could be heard asking someone else, “Are you ready?” Then came the immortal words, “O.K. Let’s roll.”
And with that, a group of courageous passengers aboard Flight 93 sacrificed themselves in order to prevent the terrorist attack from becoming even worse. A strike on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. was averted, and the plane crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Their heroic action underscores the dignity and value of each and every human life. Their example of selflessness and valor in the face of incredible danger is sorely needed in a world in which human life is too often regarded as disposable.
Let their sacrifice never be forgotten, especially in a century when news cycles are lightning-paced and attention spans are short.
If each of us could just spend a few moments this week performing a life-affirming act, we could help honor all the heroes of 9/11, whether they be the passengers of Flight 93 or the first responders of New York City.
Let the heroic deeds of 9/11 not merely rest in the history books, but continue to live on in our memories, and in our pledge to protect the most vulnerable among us.