Our nation must continue to persevere

Freedom New Mexico

In the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the story of four of the passengers of hijacked Flight 93, which crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, captured the interest of Americans and their supporters around the world.

Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick and Tom Burnett, after learning through cell phone communications that terrorists had taken down the World Trade Center towers, decided to fight back. The four men used a food cart to ram their way into the cockpit to ensure that Flight 93 did not take out the U.S. Capitol, the White House or any other landmark. They knew they were going to die — they just wanted to ensure that as few other Americans as possible would meet their same fate.

As they got ready to act, Beamer was heard telling his partners, “Let’s roll.” The phrase became a rallying cry nationwide.

Flight 93 crashed outside of Shanksville, Pa. There were no survivors — unless you count the scores of Americans’ whose lives may have been lost if Beamer, Bingham, Glick and Burnett had not acted so selflessly and so decisively.

We now stand 10 years removed from Sept. 11, 2011. Osama bin Laden, the personification of evil who orchestrated the attacks, is dead, slain by U.S. Navy SEALS, his body jettisoned into the sea. But the death of one craven zealot is not equal to the nearly 3,000 innocents who died at his hand a decade ago.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States launched a “war on terror,” which has cost scores of American lives and not made us measurably more safe from al-Qaida attacks. We have endured confusing, color-coded alert systems, unending obstacles and searches at airports and a loss of privacy through the sadly misnamed Patriot Act.

In a piece for Time magazine, Romesh Ratnesar wrote, “To his followers, bin Laden predicted that the U.S. would overreact to the attacks and allow itself to be drawn into an endless, enervating conflict with the Muslim world. He believed al-Qaida could bleed America into bankruptcy.” As Ratnesar points out, bin Laden was right, to a point. But our economic problems are not just due to military spending, and despite our fiscal woes, the United States remains powerful.

Ratnesar also argues: “America today is probably a less open and less confident nation than it was on 9/11. But it has become a more youthful, more diverse and more dynamic one as well.”

Talking about the loss of his son, Mark Bingham’s father, Jerry, told ESPN columnist Rick Riley: “I haven’t been right since. We work on it every day.”

Not forgetting our past. Working to make tomorrow better. Embracing the dynamic, diverse generation that will take our nation forward.

A decade after being wounded so deeply, our nation stands today in remembrance of those we lost, in reverence of those who loved them, and in honor of those who tried to save them.

But we must remain vigilant to ensure that we will not fall victim to hateful zealotry again. As Beamer said, “Let’s roll.”