44 Heroes in 22 minutes

Shanksville

If you knew you had a choice to “die for your country” or “live for it” which would you chose? Quoting from the new movie that releases in December, Lone Survivor, says best what actions the passengers and crew on United Flight 93 decided to do September 11, 2001. They lived for their country. The greatest thing they did is that they all created what our country demonstrates – a democracy – they took a vote on what to to do. They made the most important decisions of their lives, in so little time, and they became the 44 heroes for the actions they took in 22 minutes.

As I drove up the hill along the long and winding road into Shanksville National Park on September 11, 2013, I became emotional in amazement knowing that September 11, 2001, 12 years ago, a piece of the largest  tragedy in American history (in number of deaths) struck here right in front of my eyes. To describe the feelings at first was difficult. Why did it happen? Why here? How crazy such a horrific event ended in “our backyard”?

After experiencing the incredible memorial service at Shanksville, I was able to understand everything much clearer than before. The words of the four speakers, family members of the victims, and park rangers were so powerful and to magically give great insight on the entire tragedy.

It amazed me how one of the speakers Dr. Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American history, put it. “In such little time a hijack plane was turned into a meeting house into a small government. They took a vote. Then after that they turned into a small army under incredible circumstances.” They took action.

Dr. Glass also alluded to the Gettysburg Address, the 150 year anniversary this November. He says we can look back now at that history and remember it. Not only by books and classes, most can remember by the 1500 monuments located there to repaint the picture of what happened. Even more simpler than just Sandburg’s allusion to “Grass”. At Shanksville there is one. The question is, 150 years from now, how will future generations view September 11, 2001? For us, we think of “unity, and the collective action under unbelievable circumstances,” as  Dr.Glass mentions. ”The legacy of the passengers and crew will never be forgotten at this beautiful park.”

The first visit of the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior to the memorial was quite emotional. She was barely able to say what she wanted to without breaking down. With tears rushing down her face and choking up she said, “Never do we know that day we would have to put our lives on the line to save others.”  The 44 passengers and crew on Flight 93, never imagined such an atrocity would happen. “They also never knew they would become heroes.” She did not have to say too much more because that moment is a moment that will never leave me. I will never forget September 11, 2001 for as long I as I live; therefore, I will never forget the 44 heroes in 22 minutes.