The Giants of Flight 93, Plus 17 years

In October 2002 a friend of mine, Tom Holsinger, wrote about 9/11/2001  and the people on Flight 93 — Our fellow citizens who rose up and fought Al Qaeda, when all others, our military, our political leaders, our law enforcement, were frozen in surprise — at the web site.

While today’s dedication speech by Pres Trump of the “Tower of Voices” in Shanksville, PA. came close, I have not read any written commemoration of their act, before or since, as moving as this passage:

Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.


Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated.


Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.


Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.


But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.


Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.




A chainlink fence covered in mementos and flags dedicated to the flight 93 crash

This is the spontaneous memorial wall erected by Americans for the passengers and crew of Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, PA.

5 thoughts on “The Giants of Flight 93, Plus 17 years”

  1. The last airplane hijacking, at least of an American airliner.

    Robert Reid learned the hard way,

    So did Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab .

    Abdulmutallab initially cooperated with investigators, then stopped talking. The decision to read him his Miranda rights, advising him of his right to remain silent, generated criticism from a number of mostly Republican politicians.

    Of course they were Republicans ! Obama got him shut up quickly.

  2. That’s a good speech. But the delivery is just awful. Reading speeches isn’t his forte, at all. His inaugural address, the Poland speech, and this, are really great, and so much better read than watched. He’s unparalleled in his freewheeling rallies, and on twitter, but these sorts of speeches are not his thing.

  3. Trump’s delivery isn’t that bad. It’s because his ad-libbing and extemporaneous speeches are so very effective and persuasive that the formal speeches sound flat in comparison. Using the teleprompter often constrains him into a perfunctory mode that dampens the enthusiasm. However, I don’t think this speech was that way. I felt he was emotionally connected. It was fine.

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