Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - 10 Years After...

Today, America and Americans mark the 10th year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack in the US, in which approximately 3000 people lost their lives. Without doubt, a lot has changed since then – from foreign policies to sweeping security policies. America has never been the same since then. Lots of conspiracy theories exist on what happened on that fateful day, and why it happened, but this is not the focus of this write up. My focus here is the courage demonstrated by several people on that fateful day, especially the crew and passengers of the ill fated United 93 aircraft.

Have you seen the movie “United 93”? I was privileged to see it several years ago. It’s a movie about the September 11, 2001 hijacks in America. That day, 4 planes were hijacked. Three hit their targets but one did not. United 93 tried to show what happened to the one that didn’t hit its target. It is a powerful and provocative drama honouring the memory of 40 passengers and crew on United Airlines Flight 93. As the hijackers pilot the doomed flight to their target, the passengers’ stands as one and find the courage to fight back!

It was almost unbelievable. As it dawned on most of the passengers that that hijack was not a normal one and that they were doomed to crash, they decided to do something about it. They analyzed their situation and decided to do something about it! Partly out of fear and a resolve to live, they got all the weapons available on board with the help of crew members (mostly knives, hot water, fire extinguishers and what have you). They were able to disarm the hijackers and actually took down 2 of them. There was a pilot on board who had experience with 1 engine planes. He was determined to land the plane if they succeeded in getting to the cockpit. They did get there but it was too late. The plane was almost touching the ground, since they hijackers decided to land the plane anyways. They all died. Yes they did. But not like others (as far as we know). They died on their feet. They died while trying to live. They did something about the situation. And who knows how many more lives they saved – the plane was targeted at the White House! Speaking in Shanksville on Saturday at the unveiling of a memorial to the 40 victims of flight United 93, Mr Bush said "the United States will never forget". He lauded the passengers and crew of the flight, saying they launched "the first counter-offensive in the war on terror". That's a salute to courage!
Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.
I don’t know if the story is as interesting to you as it was to me. Can you imagine how this people fought to live? They didn’t just give up. They didn’t just throw in the towel. They didn’t leave their destinies in the hands of the hijackers. Note that they didn’t have much choice. They were thousands of miles above sea level. They had heard the news of 2 other crashes at the World Trade Centre. However, they wouldn’t be deterred. It was better trying than not doing anything at all.

As I write this, I remember a story I once read. I guess it sums up my point.

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl. One was an optimistic soul. But the other took the gloomy view. “We’ll drown," he lamented without much ado, and with a last despairing cry, he flung up his legs and said "Goodbye." The other frog with a steadfast grin said, “I can't get out but I won't give in, I'll just swim around till my strength is spent, then I'll die the more content.” Bravely he swam to work his scheme, and his struggles began to churn the cream. The more he swam, his legs a flutter, the more the cream turned into butter. On top of the butter at last he stopped, and out of the bowl he gaily hopped. “

What is the moral? It's easily found... Those who are not afraid to die, eventually do not! Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.

See you at the top!