Letters

Letters 02-08-2016

Less Ageism, Please The January 4 issue of this publication proved to me that there are some sensible voices of reason in our community regarding all things “inter-generational.” I offer a word of thanks to Elizabeth Myers. I too have worked hard for what I’ve earned throughout my years in the various positions I’ve held. While I too cannot speak for each millennial, brash generalizations about a lack of work ethic don’t sit well with me...Joe Connolly, Traverse City

Now That’s an Escalation I just read the letter from Greg and his defense of the AR15. The letter started with great information but then out of nowhere his opinion went off the rails. “The government wants total gun control and then confiscation; then the elimination of all Constitutional rights.” Wait... what?! To quote the great Ron Burgundy, “Well, that escalated quickly!”

Healthy Eating and Exercise for Children Healthy foods and exercise are important for children of all ages. It is important for children because it empowers them to do their best at school and be able to do their homework and study...

Mascots and Harsh Native American Truths The letter from the Choctaw lady deserves an answer. I have had a gutful of the whining about the fate of the American Indian. The American Indians were the losers in an imperial expansion; as such, they have, overall, fared much better than a lot of such losers throughout history. Everything the lady complains about in the way of what was done by the nasty, evil Whites was being done by Indians to other Indians long before Europeans arrived...

Snyder Must Go I believe it’s time. It’s time for Governor Snyder to go. The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division are now investigating the Flint water crisis that poisoned thousands of people. Governor Snyder signed the legislation that established the Emergency Manager law. Since its inception it has proven to be a dismal failure...

Erosion of Public Trust Let’s look at how we’ve been experiencing global warming. Between 1979 and 2013, increases in temperature and wind speeds along with more rain-free days have combined to stretch fire seasons worldwide by 20 percent. In the U.S., the fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Among the Heroes Recounts a Fight...
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Among the Heroes Recounts a Fight in the Sky on 9/11

Nancy Sundstrom - September 12th, 2002
For most Americans, the horrific, unbelievable events of September 11, 3001 are simply unthinkable, unimaginable. Most of us were not there. How could we possibly comprehend the heartbreak, horror, and heinousness of what took place at the World Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania on that day, one that will forever be unlike any other?
That is not to say that each and every one of us was not somehow affected. But beyond a shadow of a doubt, there are those who were profoundly impacted more deeply than the rest of us because they were there at those sites, both during the time of the attacks and in their aftermath. On year later, while we all still struggle to understand what happened it is even more important to use this time to remember and recognize the uncommon bravery and spirit of those who were there - those who lived to tell and those who didn’t.
Some of the voices of that latter group surface in a deeply moving new book entitled “Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back“ by Jere Longman, a reporter for The New York Times who the story of Flight 93 from the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the author of the acclaimed “The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women‘s Soccer Team and How It Changed the World.“
This is a story of an incredibly valiant struggle and final goodbyes of a group of men and women whose destiny it was to be on a flight that was believed to be headed for a collision with the White House after being overtaken by four terrorist hijackers as part of the three orchestrated attacks on September 11.
Because of the struggle initiated by the passengers against the hijackers, their mission failed. As the newly defined Secretary of Homeland Defense Tom Ridge said at a special ceremony to honor the plane’s passengers just three days later, what they did undoubtedly saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. “They sacrificed themselves for others - the ultimate sacrifice,“ he stated. “What appears to be a charred, smoldering hole in the ground,“ said the Pennsylvania governor, “is truly and really a monument to heroism.“
The entire truth about what happened in during the struggle between those aboard Flight 93 died with those who went down in the crash, but author Longman has done as thorough a job possible in piecing the tale together, bringing together hundreds of interviews and countless pieces of documentation for what will most likely be the definitive accounting of this part of the September 11 tragedy.
As the book opens, he sets the stage:

“The sky on September 11 dawned cerulean blue, one of those unblemished skies that often appeared in late summer after heavy rains or hurricanes -- rinsed, cloudless, apparently cleansed of tumult. It was a week past Labor Day. The U.S. Open tennis tournament had just concluded, school was back in session, football season had begun, baseball had entered its stretch run. Casual fashion had faded to basic black. Autumn had arrived in the New York area, if not by calendar‘s decree, then by the urgent feel of resumption. Summer had been shaken away like sand from a beach towel.
Dressed in his navy blue uniform, the four gold stripes on the sleeves denoting his rank as captain, Jason Dahl entered United Airlines‘ flight operations center in a secure area of Terminal A at Newark International Airport. It was approximately seven a.m. on this Tuesday. Check-in occurred an hour before each domestic flight. The previous day, Jason had traveled to Newark from his home in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado. He would pilot Flight 93 to San Francisco, having traded a trip later in the month for this one. This was a long-awaited week. Jason would stop by and see his mother in San Jose, California, during his layover. In two days, he would return home to begin his plans for the weekend.
This would be the fifth wedding anniversary for Jason and his wife, Sandy. It was the second marriage for both, and Jason liked to do things in a big way. He had proposed to her on a cruise ship, hiring a plane to fly over with a banner that read SANDY, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, WILL YOU MARRY ME? For their honeymoon, he told Sandy to pack for another cruise. They ended up in Tahiti. When he called on Monday night from Newark, Jason told Sandy that he had bought her a new Volvo. There would be more gifts. When it came to birthdays and anniversaries, Jason possessed the flamboyance of Monty Hall introducing a showcase on Let‘s Make a Deal. He and a family friend, Jewel Wellborn, had arranged for Sandy to receive a manicure, pedicure, facial and a massage on Friday afternoon. While she was distracted in her bedroom, deliverymen would arrive with a baby grand piano programmed with Jason and Sandy‘s wedding song. That night, Jason would cook a gourmet meal. On Saturday, he and Sandy would fly to London to celebrate their anniversary. “He was so thrilled, planning every intricate detail of surprise,“ Wellborn said.“

It is this sort of personal detail - evenly distributed among all of the passengers and crew - that makes this such a moving account. The same care is given to building the best chronology possible- largely based on crew communications and passenger cell phone calls - of the takeover and the resistance to it. Quite simply, it is impossible to put down, and humbling, to say the least.
At a time when the rest of the United States was able to do little more than watch with uncomprehending horror, there were a small group of true patriots and heroes aboard an airplane, just as there were at the other two attack sights. They did the work for us that day, and forever. Our gratitude cannot be expressed deeply enough, and accounts like this one confirm that.

 
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