I honestly don't know who to attribute this to, but I sure liked it:
FLIGHT 93, RE
At 9.58am Eastern time, Tuesday September 11th 2001, United Airlines
Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
As UPI’s Jim Bennett wrote, “The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and a
half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment
the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.”
Six decades earlier, the American people had to wait four months between Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid. But September 11th
was Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid wrapped up in 90 minutes.
Flight 93 was supposed to be the fourth of Osama’s flying bombs, its
destination either the White House or the Capitol. Had it reached its
target, the following morning’s headlines would have included “The
Vice-President is still among the missing, presumed dead”. Had Flight 93
sheared the top off the White House, that would have been the day’s
“money shot”, as it was in the alien-invasion flick Independence Day -
the shattered façade, smoke billowing, the seat of American power
reduced to rubble.
But the dopey hijackers assigned to Flight 93 were halfway across the
continent before they made their move and started meandering back east.
And, by the time the passengers began calling home on their cellphones,
their families knew what had happened in New York. Todd Beamer couldn’t
get through to his wife, so the last conversation of his life was with
the GTE telephone operator, who stayed on the line with him and
overheard his final words: “Are you ready, guys? Let’s roll!”
And then a brave group of passengers jumped their hijackers and, at the cost of their own lives, prevented that day’s grim toll rising even higher.
At a terrible moment for America, their heroism was the only victory of the day.
Four years on, plans for the Flight 93 National Memorial have now been
revealed. The winning design, chosen from 1,011 entries, will be built
in that pasture in Pennsylvania where those heroes died. The memorial is
called “The Crescent of Embrace”.
That sounds like a fabulous winning entry - in a competition to create a
note-perfect parody of effete multicultural responses to terrorism.
Indeed, if anything, it’s too perfect a parody: the “embrace” is just
the usual huggy-weepy reconciliatory boilerplate, but the “crescent”
transforms its generic cultural abasement into something truly
In the design plans, “The Crescent of Embrace” looks more
like the embrace of the Crescent – ie, Islam.
After all, what better way to demonstrate your willingness to “embrace” your enemies than by erecting a giant Islamic crescent at the site of the day’s most unambiguous episode of American heroism?
Okay, let’s get all the “of courses” out of the way –
Of course, the overwhelmingly majority of Muslims aren’t terrorists;
Of course, we all know “Islam” means “peace” and “jihad” means “healthy-lifestyle lo-carb granola bar”; etc, etc.
Nevertheless, the men who hijacked Flight 93 did it in the name of Islam and their last words as they hit the Pennsylvania sod were no doubt “Allahu Akhbar”.
One would be unlikely even today to come across an Allied D-Day memorial so misconceived in its spirit of reconciliation as to be called the Swastika of Embrace.
Yet Paul Murdoch, the architect, has somehow managed to produce a design whose two most obvious interpretations are
a) a big nothing or
b) a splendid memorial to the hijackers rather than their victims.
Four years ago, most of us understood instinctively the courage of
Flight 93. They were honoured not just by chickenhawks and neocons and
Zionists and the usual suspects but even by celebrities.
The leathery old rocker Neil Young wrote a dark driving anthem called “Let’s Roll” that began with cellphones ringing. Then:
I know I said I love you
I know you know it’s true
I got to put the phone down
And do what we gotta do
One’s standing in the aisle way
Two more at the door
We got to get inside there
Before they kill some more…
Granted, even then, there were a lot of folks eager to “embrace” their
enemies. The day after September 11th, Robert Daubenspeck of White River Junction, Vermont wrote to my local newspaper advising against
retaliation: “Someone, someday, must have the courage not to hit back
but to look them in the eye and say, ‘I love you’.”
That’s not as easy as it sounds. If you try to look Richard Reid the shoebomber in the eye as he’s bending down to light the fuse sticking out of his sock, you could easily put your back out.
But each to his own. If Mr Murdoch sincerely believes in a “crescent of
embrace”, let him build one – at the headquarters of a “moderate”
Islamic lobby group, or in the parking lot of your wackier colleges.
To impose it on Flight 93 – to, in effect, hijack those passengers a second
time – is an abomination.
Flight 93 is about what happens when you understand that some things can’t be embraced.
Perhaps Mr Beamer and his comrades did indeed “look them in the eye” and saw there was nothing to negotiate, nothing to “embrace”.
So they acted – and, faced with a novel and unprecedented form of terror, they stopped it cold in little more than an hour.
Todd Beamer asked that telephone operator to join him in reciting the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...”
He knew there would be no happy ending that day, but in their resourcefulness and sacrifice he and his fellow passengers gave
their country the next best thing: a hopeful ending.
That’s what the Flight 93 Memorial should be honouring.
Instead, in its feeble cultural cringe, the Crescent of Embrace hands
the terrorists of Flight 93 the victory they were denied on September
And it profoundly dishonours Todd Beamer, Thomas Burnett, Jeremy
Glick, Mark Bingham and other forgotten heroes of that flight.
Most of us are all but resigned to losing New York’s Ground Zero
memorial to a pile of non-judgmental if not explicitly anti-American
pap: The minute you involve big-city politicians and foundations and
funding bodies and “artists” you’re on an express chute to the default
mode of the cultural elite.
But surely it’s not too much to hope that in Pennsylvania the very precise, specific, individual, human scale of one great act of American heroism need not be buried under another soggy dollop of generic prettified passivity.
A culture that goes to such perverse lengths to disdain its heroes cannot survive and doesn’t deserve to.
Four years ago, Todd Beamer’s rallying cry was quoted by Presidents and
rock stars alike.
That’s all that’s needed in that field: the kind of simple dignified memorial you see on small-town commons saluting Civil War veterans, a granite block with the names of the passengers and the words “LET’S ROLL.”
The “crescent of embrace”, in its desperation to see no enemies and stand for nothing, represents the precise opposite of Beamer, Glick, Burnett and co:
Are you ready, guys? Let’s roll over.