Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Heroes Among Us

 

I struggle to write about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. It is such a monumental moment that I fear my feeble attempt to describe it would be like trying to replicate the Sistine Chapel with crayons in a spiral notebook. But like most Americans alive that day, I remember vividly where I was and how my chest tightened when I realized the enormity of what I was witnessing. That feeling returns on the occasions when I read and hear about the lives lost in the fight to protect this nation from its enemies. Each story is a model of selfless sacrifice for the freedom of our fellow Americans.

We learn about our war heroes in school: ordinary men and women who join a fight for the existence of a nation that affords a blanket of security and the opportunity to wake up each morning with a new day of freedom. They were farmers and militiamen who came together to defeat a great British army; they were young men sent overseas to fight tyranny and the worst evils in Europe and later the fight against Communism. More recently young men and women are in the heat of the desert, fighting a war that someone born 17 years ago today could join without ever not knowing our nation at war. These patriots, along with the our police, firefighters, and emergency responders put aside their safety so we can be safe going about our day-to-day lives.

On 9/11 we witnessed heroism of another type. People who woke up that Tuesday morning expecting a day like any other, just as we live on any Tuesday in 2018, but they were called upon to do the extraordinary. Below is a transcript of the final call Tom Burnett made to his wife, Deena. Tom was a passenger on United Flight 93.

Tom: Good. (a long quiet pause) We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane.
Deena: No! Sit down, be still, be quiet, and don’t draw attention to yourself! (The exact words taught to me by Delta Airlines Flight Attendant Training).
Tom: Deena! If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have do something!
Deena: What about the authorities?
Tom: We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway.
It’s up to us. I think we can do it.
Deena: What do you want me to do?
Tom: Pray, Deena, just pray.
Deena: (after a long pause) I love you.
Tom: Don’t worry, we’re going to do something.
He hung up

They may not have put on a uniform, but they fought the good fight. They did something. The heroes on that day didn’t make it home. The best of America doesn’t make it home. Our warriors leave their lives and souls on the battlefield. Their families mourn the loss of a life that could have been. We can try to remember, that although we commemorate September 11, our duty as Americans to pass on the torch of freedom is an unending cause.

We came together as a nation. Our strength and resolve reflecting the selfless heroism of Tom Burnett and his fellow passengers, the firefighters and police in New York City, and military men and women at the Pentagon. My husband and I both joined the military not long after that (separately, as we were years from even meeting). But we eventually settled back in our hometown, not far from the high school we both attended. It so happens to be the same high school as Tom Burnett. Our Post Office is named for him. There is a scholarship at the city in his honor.

When I drive by the school or drop a letter in the mail, I think of Tom Burnett. How the best of us don’t make it home. I only hope I can live a life worthy of his sacrifice, and of all who came before and since September 11, 2001, and that I pass on a model of honor, valor, and selflessness that will sustain this nation for future generations.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 7 comments.

  1. Member

    @jennastocker: You might’a made me cry a little, there.

    • #1
    • September 11, 2018 at 5:28 pm
    • 5 likes
  2. Coolidge
    JennaStocker Post author

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @jennastocker: You might’a made me cry a little, there.

    If ever there was a reason to shed a tear- be it for our heroes, sung and unsung.

    • #2
    • September 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm
    • 3 likes
  3. Member

    George Washington was retreating from the British early in the war across a river. He sent one group to engage the British while the rest of his army crossed the bridge. The men in that infantry group were just torn to shreds by the red coats. I think two thirds of them were lost in that battle.

    Still, they held their ground and prevented the British from attacking the rest of the army. If they did not the entire war could have been lost.

    If memory serves, George Washington said as he witnessed the slaughter and the bravery, “Where do we find such men?”

    When I heard about the firefighters going into crumbling buildings to save people, I am grateful that we can still find them.

    • #3
    • September 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm
    • 6 likes
  4. Coolidge
    JennaStocker Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    George Washington was retreating from the British early in the war across a river. He sent one group to engage the British while the rest of his army crossed the bridge. The men in that infantry group were just torn to shreds by the red coats. I think two thirds of them were lost in that battle.

    Still, they held their ground and prevented the British from attacking the rest of the army. If they did not the entire war could have been lost.

    If memory serves, George Washington said as he witnessed the slaughter and the bravery, “Where do we find such men?”

    When I heard about the firefighters going into crumbling buildings to save people, I am grateful that we can still find them.

    I love this. Yes, they’re out there, sometimes it just takes extraordinary circumstances to see them take action. God bless them all.

    • #4
    • September 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm
    • 4 likes
  5. Coolidge

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    When I heard about the firefighters going into crumbling buildings to save people, I am grateful that we can still find them

    And the passengers of flight 93. By the time I woke up that day, the Towers were down. As I turned on the TV after a call from my brother, flight 93 had just crashed. At some point, the news reported that the passengers may have fought back. I thought “Please God, let that be true”, and it was. That and the naked heroism of our firefighters and police were the bright shining lights that dark, dark day. 

    • #5
    • September 11, 2018 at 9:49 pm
    • 5 likes
  6. Thatcher

    Amen, and thank you, @jennastocker!

    • #6
    • September 12, 2018 at 5:45 pm
    • 3 likes
  7. Thatcher

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @jennastocker: You might’a made me cry a little, there.

    Me too

    • #7
    • September 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    • 3 likes