It seemed like a regular September morning. But that changed very quickly.
By 9:43 a.m. EST, two commercial airliners had crashed into New York City's World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon in what became the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
But the attack was not over yet. More disturbing news revealed that another plane had been hijacked (United Airlines Flight 93) and was allegedly poised to strike the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House.
It was then that the Al-Qaeda terrorists on Flight 93 announced that they had a bomb on board and used this threat to take control of the plane.
The passengers were ordered to the back of the aircraft, and several began to phone home alerting their loved ones about what was happening. What the terrorists didn't realize, however, was that these passengers weren't going down without a fight.
Sandra Bradshaw, a flight attendant on the plane, called her husband and said, “My airplane has been hijacked by three guys with knives and we are in the back getting together some hot water to throw on them. Have you got any ideas?”
Thomas Burnett, a father of 3 from California, called his wife Deena and informed her that people had been stabbed. Deena told Burnett that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Burnett called back again and told Deena that he and some others were going to “do something” to prevent the terrorists from carrying out their plans.
Todd Beamer, a business executive, didn't want to call his pregnant wife and worry her with troubling news, so he phoned the GTE-Verizon Switchboard, which dealt with the phone calls on United Airlines Flights. He told the supervisor that they are going to try and “jump on” the hijacker who was wearing the bomb.
Perhaps realizing that these resilient Americans were going to fight for their lives and even sacrifice themselves to stop the terrorists, the Al-Qaeda member who was flying the plane, Ziad Jarrah, started to roll the aircraft and tried to throw the heroes off balance.
Then, realizing that he wasn't going to discourage the uprising within United 93, Jarrah made the decision to crash the plane into an open field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The sacrifices of the 40 Americans aboard United Flight 93 are nothing short of remarkable. According to the 9/11 Commission Report: Had the plane maintained its speed and flight path, rather than crashing, it would have arrived in Washington, D.C., in 18-20 minutes.
We will never forget the bravery and selfless actions taken by the passengers of United Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001. May they “Rest in Peace,” and may their unwavering courage forever be written in our hearts and minds.