The Flight that Fought Back

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Amazing. Gut-wrenching. Heart-breaking. Inspiring. Those are just a few of the words I can use to describe The Discovery Channel’s documentary, “The Flight That Fought Back.” If you missed it last night, check your local schedules and catch a rerun. Or buy the DVD.

I had been looking forward to seeing it since I first saw trailers during “Mythbusters” commercial breaks a couple of weeks ago. For some unknown reason, I forgot about it until about 5 minutes into the show, so I missed the beginning. What I did see was riveting. I haven’t been that captivated by a TV program in years.

It told the story of the 40 passengers and crew onboard United Flight 93 and how they stood up to the terrorist hi-jackers and prevented them from crashing the plane into the U.S. Capitol building. The film-makers interviewed family members and played actual recordings of cell-phone and air-phone calls from the passengers to people on the ground. It was fairly apparent that the passengers of Flight 93 knew that they were about to die, but they also knew that they had to do something. They knew from people on the ground that they were riding a terrorist’s missile, and that only they could stop it from reaching its target.

The producers take some artistic license with the representation, but most of the events are pieced together from the phone calls and flight data. They are forthright in presenting what is actually known and what is speculation. The result is an even-handed presentation of what probably happened on that plane.

The passengers of Flight 93 were the first to fight the war on terror. They weren’t the first casualties, but they were the first to engage the enemy head-on. They did so admirably. They were all heroes.

As a nation, we honor our heroes. Flight 93 is no different. The National Park Service is building a memorial park in the Pennsylvania field where Flight 93 went down. They solicited design entries from the public, and several architects submitted subtle, understated designs. The winning design was unveiled last week. Here is a picture and some commentary about the winning design.

Whether or not the crescent design was an intentional reference to Islam, it should be changed. The crescent is a symbol of Islam, and this subtle symbolism will be noted around the world. Please take a moment and e-mail the National Parks Service your thoughts about the Flight 93 Memorial. Be polite and courteous, but tell them that this memorial is for the heroic passengers, and not the Islamic terrorists that perpetrated the hi-jacking.

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7 Responses to “The Flight that Fought Back”

  1. dagwud Says:

    Joe,
    My Family and I had a lot to do last night, but we were captivated by “The Flight that Fought Back.” They are heroes.

  2. Terry Austin Says:

    Do I understand correctly that family members of the victims helped choose the design?

    If so, I fail to see why anyone else should kick up a fuss.

  3. Joe Longhorn Says:

    From what I understand, the family members did get to see the designs and participate in the selection process. Did they notice the symbolism and accept it? Or maybe they just didn’t notice it? I don’t really know, but none of this changes how this symbol will be perceived in the Muslim world. If we stick with this design we must accept one of two realities:

    1) We acknowledge the crescent as a symbol of Islam, and in so doing, honor the terrorists.

    or…

    2) We reinforce the perception of American ignorance and naivete with respect to other world cultures.

  4. Michael Lasley Says:

    I’m not sure how to feel about this. I think people will remember the heroes on the flight regardless of the monument built. Naive question: Is Islam the *only* thing a crescent symbolizes? And also, even if it does, it could be seen as a way to come to peace with Islam — distinguishing between the terrorists and the religion. Two completely different things altogether. (Now, if that is the reasoning behind it, I wouldn’t have chosen it — I just think it’s important not to equate Islam with terrorism.) I also don’t see why we would worry about how the Muslim world interprets the memorial. The memorial is for the heroes on the flight, their families, and all of us who are trying to find a way to cope with everything that happened 4 years ago. I do think the criticism is valid and the design warrants discussion, but I am continually frustrated by people telling the victims families how they should think or feel. I still remember Bill O’Reilly telling a son of a victim from the WTCs, on live television, that his dad would have wanted America to go to war. The young man maintained that his dad in all likelihood would not have wanted a war to result from the attacks but O’Reilly, who had never met the man, insisted the son was wrong.

    I got sidetracked, sorry. Another aspect that I think is troubling is the cost. I am all for a memorial in honor of the flight, but I do not understand why it should be something so very expensive. I think their memories would be just as honored by establishing some sort of fund to help eradicate hunger or something like that. That way, people wouldn’t have to go to a specific place to be moved by the passengers bravery. It could be seen in more places.

  5. Terry Austin Says:

    Well, as long as we don’t feed Islamic people…

    🙂

  6. Terry Austin Says:

    Joe, it just now hit me that since we don’t know each other well, you may interpret the above comment as a swipe at you or your blog entry.

    It was not intended as such. I was just being silly; no harm was intended, and I hope none was inflicted.

  7. Joe Longhorn Says:

    None at all, Terry!

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