Todd Beamer of Hightstown, New Jersey was 32 years old. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, he was a passenger on board Flight 93, headed for San Francisco. Several passengers on that flight were in contact with loved ones, on their cell phones. Through these conversations, they knew that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, and another at the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. On board their plane, Middle Eastern terrorists had attacked the crew and steered the plane towards Washington. Beamer and others on board realized this was not a "routine" hijacking. They realized, instead, that the plane was being used as a weapon. Since it was apparently "re-routed" for Washington, the plan was to crash it there. At the White House? The CIA? For about 13 minutes, Beamer spoke to the GTE operator.
The passengers knew they were not going to get off the plane alive. They knew that enemies of America had taken over and a war had started. They decided they were not going to go down without a fight. They gathered together and hatched a plan. They would rush one hijacker, who, he told everyone, had a bomb lashed to his chest.
Beamer told the operator, Lisa D. Robinson, to tell his wife he loved her. He also said other passengers would join him. Reportedly they included at least Jeremy Glick, 31 and Thomas Burnett, Jr., 38 in the attack on the hijackers. Beamer recited Psalm 23 with Robinson ("...Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil; for Thou are with me..."). Others recited the Lord's Prayer ("Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name…"). He left the phone off the hook, so Robinson could listen.
Thomas Burnett, on his cell phone, told his wife, "I know we're all going to die -there's three of us who are going to do something about it." Jeremy Glick told his wife, "We can take them, we can take them," just before Beamer gave the order. Robinson heard him say, just before 10 A.M., "Are you guys ready? Let's roll!" She heard some screaming, and then silence. Beamer left behind two sons, ages three and one. His wife was pregnant.
His widow, Lisa Beamer, told the AP, "Some people live their whole lives, long lives, without having left anything behind. My sons will be told their whole lives that their father was a hero, that he saved lives. It's a great legacy for a father to leave his children."
What happened next is, of course, not known for sure, but then again, it is. Beamer, Glick and Burnett were Americans. They were superior human beings to the Muslim savages hijacking Flight 93. They, and probably others, demonstrated their superiority by barreling into the savages, disabling them, and diverting that plane from its likely intended destination - a terrorist crash landing into the White House or the CIA - forcing it to crash into a rural area 60 miles from Pittsburgh. Everybody on board died.
Overall, 19 Al Qaeda terrorists, all of them from Saudi Arabia, boarded four planes that morning. Using box cutters to intimidate the crews, they took over the planes. Each group had people who knew the rudimentary elements of flying a jet. They had learned how to take off and fly, but not how to land. They had disabled the controls from the pilots. Two of them headed to the World Trade Center, which they had failed to blow up in 1993. They needed two planes to finish the job, one for each of the twin towers. Another plane was steered to the Pentagon, where it made a direct hit. The Pentagon suffered great damage and loss of life, but the World Trade Center attack was absolutely unbelievable.
Confusion reigned, but the towers did not simply blow up entirely and fall to the ground in one giant fireball. Many died instantly, and many others escaped, often in harrowing circumstances that involved acts of courage from ordinary office workers, and the bravery of New York City firefighters and policemen. But many others were trapped and knew their fate for agonizing minutes. They used cell phones to call loved ones and tell them that they loved them, sometimes leaving heartbreaking messages on voicemail and answering machines.
Some were forced by the heat and flames to the windows of the skyscraper, one of the tallest, most impressive buildings in the world. Facing certain death, many jumped to their deaths, to the shock of horrified on-lookers. More than 1,1000 were trapped by wreckage on the upper floors. Fewer than 20 got out alive.
In a real-life scene reminiscent of "The Poseidon Adventure", some made life-or-death decisions to take the elevator down, where they met fiery deaths. A few took the elevator up, where they managed to avoid flames and make their way to staircases that had not yet been engulfed. Some crowded to the top floor, hoping to get to the roof and be rescued by helicopter, but they were doomed. The doors were sealed shut. The authorities had ruled out that kind of rescue as dangerously impossible. All of the choices were random. The few who lived were just lucky. Some had waited to hear word, instead of leaving, after the first plane hit, only to be killed by the blast from the second. Others who left after the first plane were killed by falling debris from the second. Others who waited lived because they did so.
Everybody who survived recalled the heat, the darkness and the smoke. Unknown voices called out, "follow me." Others cried for help. People saved each other's lives. People told stories of anonymous heroes, people in "red bandanas" and "three-piece suits" who helped them to safety, only to die trying. Over time identifications were made this way.
Police and fire personnel arrived on the scene. There was no doubt that to enter the buildings was the worst possible option. One asks what other country produces the kind of people who had the guts to do what they did. There are a few. The number is small.
The firemen raced into the two buildings and rescued as many people as they possibly could. Many went in and out. Many died trying. Rescue Company 1, West 43rd Street, lost 11 men. In an office complex that was aptly named, the attack was truly an act of global terrorism. It was the biggest single terrorist act in British history, eclipsing all previous horrors in their long struggle with the Irish Republican Army. 500 Englishmen died. More than half of France's Carr Futures employee roster of 134 perished. Muslims and Jews died.
It was the worst American disaster since Pearl Harbor. Historians talked about terrible death tolls at Antietam and Gettysburg. A shocked, numbed nation cried. The first reports were that 20,000 had perished. Over time, that figure was reduced to around 3,000. The black-hearted savages who perpetuated this deed had accomplished their horrific task, but surely the news that 3,000, not 20,000, had died must have pierced their souls. It was the remarkable acts of courage and heroism by countless firemen and policemen that in fact did reduce the death toll as much as it did. Scores of police officers and more than 300 firefighters died, including a beloved 68-year old fire chaplain named Father Mike Judge. Everyone just knew him as Father Mike.
Remarkable stories flooded out of individual acts of heroism, of beloved family members, of departed firemen and cops. An outpouring of sympathy was felt from around the world. The French newspaper Le Monde declared, "We are all Americans." There was global solidarity with the United States that had not been felt in decades.
Palestinian savages danced in the street.
Confusion reigned at first, while President Bush, the intelligence community and the military tried to figure out what was happening. Bush and Vice-President Cheney were separated from each other in case an attack was made on them. Bush, on board Air Force One, was flown to different locations so as to make him a less available target.
Eventually, Bush returned to the White House and the nation was placed in a state of high alert. Then remarkable things began to happen. Britons who survived the Blitzkrieg could relate, but a new spirit emerged. The spirit was, and there is no other way to see this, uniquely American. The terrorists had struck a huge blow to the United States. There was no doubt about that, but they had not actually accomplished their goal. They had done the physical work, at least in New York. The Pentagon had sustained serious damage, but the plane had not taken out as much of the structure as the terrorists wanted it to. Because of Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick and Thomas Burnett, Jr. they had not completed the mission.
But the terrorists had missed the mark in a way they could not understand. At first, for fleeting hours, perhaps days, it looked like they had demoralized a nation. They wanted to strike a blow at the heart of freedom and cause an entire population to bow their heads and accept defeat. What made them think they could accomplish this lies at the heart of their insular, fundamentalist world. The nature of freedom, of love and of America were cartoon images to them; it was "spin," public relations, political lies, national mythology, propaganda. In their mind, Islam was the only religion on Earth and all others were so unworthy that they deserved to be wiped out. The kind of mentality that propelled Americans to make lives for themselves, to love and support families, to worship freely and make choices in a Democratic manner, were shams. Instead, they looked at America and the West and saw only pornography, drunkenness, drug addiction, and filth. In their warped minds they discerned that acts of terror were valid against such infidels.
After the initial shock, however, Americans did not divide among themselves, which is what the terrorists wanted us to do. We came together in a way we had not done in years. It cannot be emphasized how important this was, because most countries, even Democratic countries in the West, would have fractured at the seams. They would have been brought down by in fighting, arguments, finger pointing and self-recrimination. Americans got stronger. Foreigners expressed outright envy at this ability, which they freely admitted was something they could not have done.
Then came George Bush. For the first nine months of his Presidency, Bush had put together a decent record, but by no means did it look like he was on the road to greatness. His basic honesty had helped him score points in light of Clinton's character flaws and Gore's unfortunate, desperate attempts to steal the election in Florida. He had put together a respectable Cabinet and staff, surrounding himself with able people, many of whom had faithfully served his father. Cheney, despite health problems, was a steady hand, although he had been called the "co-President," or even the "real President," by those who believed his experience overruled Bush. Bush had chosen Colin Powell as his Secretary of State. Powell, the protege of Cap Weinberger, symbolized the new America; a bright African-American from humble New York beginnings who had succeeded in the Army. Unlike the West Pointers, he was product of ROTC at City College of New York. He served in Vietnam, then moved up the ladder. He was a hero as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War, along with theatre commander General Norman Schwarzkopf. Under Clinton, Powell had suffered the draft-dodger, but had done so loyally, in such a manner as to demonstrate the character differences between the two. Powell retired from the Army, wrote his best selling memoirs, and was widely perceived as a Presidential candidate. In 1996, he endorsed Dole and made his Republicanism known to any who may have doubted it. Had he chosen to run, he most likely would have won the 1996 or 2000 elections. Should he choose to run in the future, he would be a strong candidate to succeed Bush.
Powell also had an Eisenhower-type appeal. He had always maintained a non-partisan approach, probably leaning to the G.O.P. because it was under Republicans that he rose and flourished. However, he was moderate. In matters of war, he was almost a dove. Powell represented the philosophy that says, "Nobody hates war more than a soldier." He became the man dedicated to finding ways to avoid war.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was more hawkish. He had held the same job under President Ford. A former Navy pilot, he was Ivy League-educated and emerged as a "neo-con," or neo-conservative. The term was originally used by liberals to deride conservatives in the aftermath of 9/11, as events unfurled in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was meant to remind people of "neo-Nazis," but that garbage did not take. Over time the phrase began to resonate. In many ways, the term does not apply, since conservatives have always believed in "peace through strength," and the prudent exercise of American military might to shape a safer world.
But "old conservatives" like Pat Buchanan had maintained an isolationist stance, stating that no American boy should die unless America's direct interests were at stake. Those "direct interests" were the bone of contention. Buchanan essentially believed they were confined to our shores, with narrow parameters beyond that. The so-called neo-cons believed that America had a duty and obligation to use its power and influence to create American hegemony, safety, freedom and security, in such a way as to allow the seeds of Democracy to grow in the new century. There is no corner of the globe too distant for this mission to be carried out. It is ambitious beyond anything in history, and is the genesis for a new and continuing American Empire. Unlike the Romans, the British, the Chinese, or the Communists, ours has and continues to be a "new kind of empire"; an empire not of colonialization or "puppet governments," but of influence, partnership and freedom. It involves much more than military domination. It is about language, culture, values and a concept that is old in the West, but new to much of the world: Choice. It involves the incredibly difficult, hopeful concept that the former Third World can evolve into a place of safety from want and poverty. It requires faith in the ultimate goodness of humans, and a stern resolve to take on the presence of evil and overcome it, as some think it is the destiny of America to do. It is a plan that may not be fully completed for 100 years, but it is the future of the world.
The neo-cons are prepared to implement this plan. In prior years, it was not articulated. During the Cold War, it was too distant a vision, since first Communism had to be defeated. Bush hinted at it in his New World Order speech of 1991, but it was still unformulated. Clinton did not have the inclination nor the ability to even conceive of such a thing. Had he tackled this kind of issue, had he made the decision to formulate a "Nixon goes to China" foreign policy with such broad outreach, all his crimes and perfidies would have been, if not forgiven, certainly put aside in light of historical greatness, much the way FDR's corruptions give way to the fact that he led America in the greatest struggle in the history of Mankind.
World War II was the most important struggle in the annals of human events, and everything that happened after it led to 9/11. The Berlin Wall was not the "end of history." 9/11 is the beginning of a new history. Everything emanates from this date. The Chinese word for crisis is the same as opportunity. It was in the dark after-hours of 9/11 that people like Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice began to understand that in fact this was as much an opportunity as a crisis.
Bush himself made a speech in which he stated that it was America's goal to "defeat evil." In so doing, the United States embarks on a momentous journey, and finds itself dealing with an international community that is not yet capable of understanding the nature of our aims in the world. For thousands of years, power and influence have too often been used to spread war, slavery, occupation and ruthless empire. America, in a little over 200 years, has proven that we are the one country worthy of international exploration on a global scale, and yet the concept is so dangerous to so many that even this country is considered suspect. The neo-cons, or the New Conservatives as I prefer to call them, have a vision that goes beyond that. Theirs is a holy mission, one that stretches its lineage back to the Founding Fathers, who were divinely inspired during that sweltering Philadelphia Summer of 1787 when they hammered out the Constitution.
Evil has met us often. It has divided our friends and partners through lies and propaganda. These lies have infiltrated many elements right here in America, where our past efforts have been dissected with a biased eye, trying to discredit us as "exploiters," "racists," "plunderers," "imperialists," "colonialists," and "war mongers." The United States has done more for more people than any entity in history. We have fed the hungry, clothed the poor, saved the dispossessed, and systematically killed evil regime after evil regime. The fact that these events are shrouded as exploitation instead of freedom and hope is proof that evil does use lies to promote its cause.
The New Conservatives realize what our mission is. We will carry it out despite the protests, the hate, and the criticism. We will do it because it is the right thing to do. This realization went from being a policy paper at the Hoover Institute to the new, established doctrine of the United States, in the hours and days after 9/11.
That was when George W. Bush emerged as a statesman and man of history. He went to the site of the fallen World Trade Center, and with no visible Secret Service protection scrambled out to the middle of the rubble, standing next to a fire captain, and with a bullhorn in his hands began to speak. At first, the exhausted firemen were wary of Bush. The kind of courageous, patriotic, hard-working folks who tend to become firemen and police officers are the very people who tend to vote Republican, so Bush was pre-disposed to a friendly audience. But after what had happened, Bush could easily have looked like any other politician, looking to score political points in a "photo/op." At this point the workers had little patience for such a thing.
Either Clinton would have looked ridiculous if they had tried to venture into such a situation. Gore would have looked awkward. Bush was right at home. He rallied the men, connected to them, encouraged them. His voice was optimistic and hopeful. It was just the ticket. Speaking into the bullhorn, one of the firefighters shouted, "We can't hear you."
"Well," Bush replied, with just a touch of humor, "I can hear you. And pretty soon, the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us."
It was magic. It was unscripted. The firefighters cheered Bush the way Londoners once cheered Churchill. They chanted "U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A." In the days and weeks that followed, Bush went on television. He addressed the Congress. He was forceful, decisive and led. He proved to be a magnificent crisis President, and received universal applause from all sides of the political spectrum. When asked what he planned to in retaliation, Bush said, "I'm not gonna fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive" or "I'm not gonna 'pound sand.'" The remark was probably a shot at Clinton, who had failed to deal with Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, terrorism, or much of anything else. Worse, Clinton had fired cruise missiles into the empty desert whenever his sex scandals dominated the news, in a blatant "wag the dog" effort at diverting attention from his lies. The difference between Bush and Clinton emerged after 9/11. It was no longer about honesty. Now it was leadership and decisive action. 9/11 began the process of exposing Clinton in ways all his scandals had not.
At the attack site, some other amazing images emerged. Three firemen raised Old Glory on a pole in the middle of the rubble. The photo resonated every bit as much as the famous Marine flag-waving at Iwo Jima. Then, unbelievably, a steel cross was "resurrected" from the wreckage. The symbolism gave hope to the firefighters and to all of America. Yes, the fact that it resembled the crucifix might have been pure coincidence.
I just do not think so.
The country was basically put on hold. Airlines were grounded and people stuck at airports. College football, the NFL, and Major League baseball all canceled their games for the next week. Then anthrax started to show up in the mail at government facilities, causing jitters among the populace. Across the country, any discovery of white substances meant a call to the police to check it out. To this day, it has never been determined who was responsible for it, although it was eventually believed that the originator was not part of the Middle Eastern terror network.
Funerals and memorial services were held. New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki made powerful, inspirational speeches, as did President Bush. The post-9/11 period turned out to be a bad scene for the Clintons. Bill Clinton showed up at a Red Cross facility, but quickly realized he was not serving himself by letting the spotlight shine on him. Reports were quickly beginning to come out about how he could have had bin Laden but failed.
Hillary was in a tough spot, too. The patriots and impressive individuals who make up the fire department and police force in New York were not her constituency. They had mostly voted for Lazio. Hillary had burned herself with them, blaming them on racism and other garbage in the accidental shootings of blacks. She played the race angle for all it was worth, garnering the votes of blacks, drug dealers, criminals and the "dispossessed" who made up her constituency. Hillary overplayed the bogus issue of "racial profiling," which was at odds with most law enforcement attitudes. She failed to appear at most of the funerals and memorials, because she knew she would be booed. However, she was lax in sending letters to the families, which she should have done. Finally, Hillary appeared at a benefit to raise money for the families, and was heartily booed. It was a sound more telling than words.
Major League baseball resumed after a week. It first it seemed utterly unimportant. But something incredible began to happen. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants was in the middle of a mad dash to break the all-time home run record of 70, set by Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998. When play resumed, Bonds, normally a hard case with the press, cried and spoke about how his record meant nothing, and that America had to come together. People rallied behind him. He provided excitement in the weeks that followed as he chased, and broke, the record. It was the first "sign of life," and a huge morale booster. It reminded people of how FDR had told baseball to keep playing their schedule during World War II, in order to boost morale.
When the play-offs started, all eyes were on New York, where the Yankees were hoping to win their fourth consecutive World Championship, and fifth in six years. Despite terrorist threats hanging, literally, over their heads, amidst anthrax warnings and jet fighters patrolling the skies above, Yankee Stadium was filled to capacity every game throughout a magical October.
The Yankees symbolize America. They are the greatest sports team in history; the best, the undisputed number one. They have a huge galaxy of faithful fans. They also have many detractors, some of whom live in New York City. There are many who think they are too good, that their excellence is not fair, and that the playing field should be more even. These people tend to root for the Red Sox or, in the old days, the Washington Senators. The New Yorkers who feel that way might be compared to liberals in America, uncomfortable with the greatness and power of this nation.
The Yankess, like America, pay little heed to their detractors and simply field the best team year after year. In 2001, they found themselves in a rare role reversal, that of a sympathetic "team of destiny." Against the Oakland A's, a rising team of young stars, the Yankees appeared to have met their match. Oakland won the first two games at Yankee Stadium, returning to Oakland to close out the best-of-five series. In game three, clinging to a slim 1-0 lead, shortstop Derek Jeter made a spectacular relay flip to nail Oakland's tying run and preserve the win. As if driven by the guiding hand of destiny, the Bronx Bombers won the text two games to capture the series, and advanced to the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After losing the first two games in Phoenix, the Yankees came home to New York. George Bush threw out the first ball. Rudolph Giuliani sat in the front row. The crowds were wild. The whole site of it did as much to defeat terrorism as any CIA black ops mission. A little over a month after the most sickening, hope-depriving act imaginable, New Yorkers responded in way that told the enemies of this country, "We live. We love. We win." In showing up at Yankee Stadium and comporting themselves in the way they did, New Yorkers foiled terrorism.
Somewhere in a bunker in the mountains of the Afghan/Pakistan border, Osama bin Laden heard about the crowds at Yankee Stadium. If he possessed the slightest ability to comprehend anything, he scratched his head and wondered, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, how in God's name these people could be so happy! Like Admiral Yamamoto after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, bin Laden and his crew had to realize that they had not pierced out heart with a dagger. Instead, they had awoken a sleeping giant.
On the field, the Yankees rallied three days in a row to win and make themselves the favorites to win the Series. Before the games, emotion and pride met the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner". During the seventh inning stretches, fans sang lustily to the stirring words of "God Bless America".
The Series shifted to Arizona, and something funny happened. The Diamondbacks won. In a way, it was perfect. The Yankees had done their part in bringing a city back to life, but by Arizona winning it also showed that the whole country was part of this story.
While the terrorists had failed in their most basic goal of breaking our spirit, they did indeed inflict some major damage other than the physical destruction of buildings and the taking of lives. Just as the economy was rebounding when the first George Bush was leaving office in 1992-93, the economy had started to tailspin when Clinton left office in 2000-01. Bush pushed through a tax cut. Data eventually indicated that the recession ended under his watch in November, 2001. But the terrorist strikes prevented a strong recovery. For the next two years, the economy remained sluggish in light of the terror strikes and two military conflicts in the Middle East. None of that affected Bush's popularity. He struck just the right tone in everything he did after 9/11; in his speeches, his steadiness, his capacity for love and compassion, and in his military response. His ratings skyrocketed to a level commensurate with his father's in 1991.
A new sense of patriotism, of a nation united, emerged. Religion and God made a major comeback. Many worried that Muslim-Americans would be persecuted. Americans overwhelmingly showed them love, with only a few scattered incidents. The event did spotlight Islam, and many studied the religion and concluded that like Judaism and Christianity before, it had reached a cross-roads in. Muslims need to examine themselves and make the right choices in order to propel their religion to its full potential.
There was a disappointing lack of moral outrage from Muslim Imams, both in the U.S. and abroad. Bush managed to get cooperation from most of the Muslim nations aligned with the U.S., but disappointing lies and outrages began to rear their ugly heads on the Arab street and in the utterly untrustworthy Arab media.
Then the moral relativists began to pop up, saying that what had happened to us was not "evil," but needed to be "understood." It was a "backlash" against our global power and support of Israel. Bill Clinton, unbelievably, came out and said we had brought it on ourselves because of the Crusades, which of course had ended some 500 to 600 years before the birth of America. However, liberal perfidy was in its own way helpful. It helped define the purpose and victory of conservatism as the winning ideology of 3,000 years of history. It identified who among us is not to be counted on in the fight, which was better to happen sooner rather than later when the stakes could be greater.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism