United Airlines Flight 93, crashed down in a field in rural Pennsylvania, never reaching its intended target because its crew and passengers fought back against the terrorists. I offer you a first had story of what happened:
September 11, 2001
My Dearest Caroline,
My heart was heavy as we left you and the kids this morning. Somehow I felt a special connection with you as we warmly embraced and tenderly kissed goodbye. Oh, how I hate saying goodbye to you. My only consolation is that I will get to see you again soon, to feel your gentle arms surround me in welcoming me home. Even though I will only be gone a few days, I will miss you tremendously, for I am incomplete when I am separated from those who fill my heart with love.
James whispered in my ear to tell you hello, then proceeded to tease me for writing such emotional words. Sometimes I think that he belittles me for my expressions of love. He’s a man's man and doesn't seem to find much time for love in his life. I can only imagine how lonely his wife and kids must be. Yet, despite his brash criticism of me and my ways, I still find an appreciation for him. He is James, and can be nothing else.
I know that you hesitated to let me take Little Charles with me on this trip, but he will soon be a man and must learn how to function in this world as a man. Sometimes I find it hard to remember that he is only 10, for he is so confident and mature. I smiled this morning as we boarded the plane. He held open the door in the terminal for an elderly couple, and then he looked at me to see if I noticed. I pretended not to, for I don't want him to act unselfishly just to win my approval. Instead, I want him to do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do. Right now he’s sleeping, his poor little head is dangling awkwardly, but he seems content for the moment. As soon as we land, I’ll call and let you know that we made it safely. Then I’ll email this letter to you at home. I marvel at our new technologies that allow me to communicate with you in so many fashions. Hold on a minute, someone is trying to tell us something...
Dear, I have bad news. One of the passengers was talking on the phone and was telling us that a plane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York. If that is so, we may not be able to return for several more days. They think that it was a terrorist act, but that seems impossible. Nothing like that would happen here in the United States. Well, that passenger just told us that a second plane has hit the towers. Oh my, I guess that we are under attack... I’ll take a few minutes and explain to Charles what’s happening. Some of the other passengers are afraid that something might happen to us. I doubt that. It would be way too hard to orchestrate. Imagine that, in only a few minutes, our whole world changed. May God have mercy on us all...
Well, I'm back. Charles is sitting wide eyed next to me, trying not to be afraid. I told him that it’s okay to be afraid, but not to let his fear control him. He asked if we were going to die. I almost told him yes, as we are all going to die. We all know that. There is appointed a day for all of us to die, and few us know when that day is coming. But I told him that we would land safely. Now I wonder if I lied to him just to make him comfortable. Why am I unwilling to tell him of the distant threat that we might all be in as we fly through the sky? I guess that I just want to protect him, but he will be a man someday and he must know how to deal with the truth.
Charles has now asked me what we would do if we knew that our plane was going to be flown into the World Trade Center. I told him that I didn't know. Then he became fearful of dying. A natural reaction, I suppose. But we have guided him to live a life where he would be ready to die if God called his name. He said that he wanted to make sure, so he closed his eyes and appeared to be praying. We then talked about those people on the planes and why they didn't stop the terrorists. I told him that we need to have the courage to do what’s right, even if it meant our own deaths. We seldom hear of people unselfishly sacrificing themselves for their brothers any more. But it was a good opportunity for me to talk to Charles about being a hero. To me, if we were to be taken over by terrorists, then I would find a way to stop them or die trying. Not that being a hero is a great reward, but I couldn’t face my family if I dishonored them by cowering down behind my seat. After all, how many lives could have been spared if the people on those planes had stopped the terrorists?
Wow. I have something to tell you. A group of Arabs just stood up and started to take over this plane. Oh my gosh... this is real. I have so much to tell you, but I am out of time. When the highjackers weren't looking, a guy named Todd just came past my chair and we are organizing a resistance. Baby, I may die, and Charles with me, but I have to do what is right. We can't let this group kill any innocent lives, we have to stop them. Imagine the odds of me talking about this exact topic with Charles and then me having an opportunity to actually instruct him for real! Sweetheart, these are probably my final words to you. Know that I love you with all my heart. I am sorry that I couldn't have loved you more and I am sorry for all the times that I chose to be selfish instead of giving to you. I deeply cherish all that we are.... I don't regret one minute of what we shared. Oh, how I love the kids. Tell them to serve God with all their hearts and strength. Tell them that I love them and that I am proud of them. Tell them that I was given an opportunity to choose between being a victim and a hero. Tell them that I chose not to die an ordinary death, but I died defending my family and my country. Is there a greater honor? I have to go, its time, at Todd said, “Let’s roll.”
I love you and I hope that you receive this letter. See you at the East Gate!
Your loving husband,
I don't know how many lives were saved because these heroes sacrificed their lives to protect us, but may God bless their survivors. These few are not forgotten.