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My Visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial from 9/11

Earlier this month I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial in southwestern Pennsylvania. I will try to put into words what it is like to stand at a place where 40 passengers and crew members showed incredible courage.
I took the pictures below as I walked by remote field near Shanksville, Pa. The boulder was put there to mark the site where the plane crashed. People ten miles away felt the ground shake.
charlie2Imagine getting up and getting on a plane to fly on business and suddenly you realize that an elaborate plan of radical Islamic terrorists has been underway and your plane is headed to the White House or the nation’s capitol. These heroes were thrust directly into it as Flight 93 was delayed forty minutes on the runway. The terrorists had planned all planes to go off at the same time, but because this one was late they were able to call loved ones and realize what was intended for their plane.
charlie1A memorial museum is being built near the crash site. People will be able to play the 13 recorded phone calls from that day. Calls where husbands and wives told their spouse that they loved them, but that they had to go and stop this plane.
With the plane turned away from its San Francisco destination and twenty minutes from D.C., several of the passengers and crew came up with a plan to make the food cart a battering ram and get into the cockpit. A flight attendant prepared scalding water. Todd Beamer, a computer software account rep with a wife, two boys and a girl on the way, then said the famous words ‘Let’s Roll!”
The terrorist flying the plane dipped the wings dramatically to throw them off course, but they could not be stopped. No one knows exactly what happened, but the plane crashed short of its destination and many lives were saved.
As I walked along the memorial wall I saw the names of those on board. Names that had stories like Christian Adams, a Fulbright grant recipient and a well-regarded figure in the wine industry, The 37 year old was en route to San Francisco on September 11 for an event promoting German wines.
charlie3Twenty year old Deora Frances Bodley of San Diego, California was the youngest person aboard Flight 93. A junior at Santa Clara University, she loved children and volunteered with many charity groups, including the Special Olympics. She was a peer counselor to troubled teens and tutored in an afterschool program.
As I got to the name of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas I felt a lump in my heart. By her name in a lighter tone were the words ‘and unborn child.’ The 38 year old and her husband, Jack, were expecting their first child. Lauren also was writing a book intended to inspire women. When she called Jack from on-board the plane, she left a message saying there was a problem on the flight. She conveyed her love for him and asked him to tell her family that she loved them, too. Lauren’s sisters were able to complete and publish her book, You Can Do It: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.
charlie4No one is allowed to go in the fields where the plane crashed except workers that need to trim areas. It is sacred ground. It has been 13 years since they showed courage beyond description. There is a place where visitors can sign cards. This was one from an elementary school student.
Charlie-Adams-e1380639350131-150x1501Charlie Adams is an Oxford native, graduate of Lafayette High School and a member of the Ole Miss Class of 1985. Adams is the author of 4 books on positive attitude and peak performance, including 2013′s “How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!!” and “Stoke the Fire Within.” His books and motivational keynotes and seminars are designed to make sure events reach their objectives and to help create winning cultures. Email him at: Charlie@stokethefirewithin.com.

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