"The full story of what happened on three of those four terrible flights will never be known. But we do know something about the final moments of United Airlines Flight 93, the decisive event of the day. Unlike those on the earlier flights, the hostages on 93 understood they were aboard a flying bomb intended to kill thousands of their fellow citizens. They knew there would be no happy ending. So they gave us the next best thing, a hopeful ending. Thomas Burnett, Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham and others phoned their families to tell them they loved them and to say goodbye. Denied even that consolation, Todd Beamer couldn't get through to anyone except a telephone company operator, Lisa Jefferson. Mr Beamer said they had a plan to jump the guys and asked her if she would pray with him, so they recited the 23rd Psalm: 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me….'
"Then he and the others rushed the hijackers. At 9.58 a.m., the plane crashed, not into the White House, but in some pasture outside Pittsburgh. As UPI's James Robbins wrote, 'The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.'
"Exactly. The most significant development of 11 September is that it marks the day America began to fight back: 9/11 is not just Pearl Harbor but also the Doolittle Raid, all wrapped up in 90 minutes. No one will ever again hijack an American airliner with boxcutters, or, I'll bet, with anything else not because of new Federal regulations, but because of the example of Todd Beamer's ad hoc platoon. Faced with a novel and unprecedented form of terror, American technology (cellphones) combined with the oldest American virtue (self-reliance) to stop it cold in little more than an hour.
"Could you or I do what they did? This will be a long, messy, bloody war, in which civilians salesmen, waitresses, accountants, tourists are in the front line. America will need more Todd Beamers and Jeremy Glicks, and not just in the air.
"Jeremy Glick knew that he would never see his three-month old daughter again, Todd Beamer that he would never know the baby his wife expected in January. But both men understood that they could play their part in preserving a world for their children to grow up in."