Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where Heroes Lie

Friday is Veteran’s Day. Besides being a federal holiday for my son and sister, it’s a chance for Americans to honor those who have served our country. This day has more meaning for me since I took a bus trip with a group of veterans to Washington DC less than a month ago.

You can’t walk around the Vietnam Wall or the Korean Memorial without being humbled by the sacrifices made by those who served. You can’t walk down the pathways at Arlington Cemetery, past rows and rows of simple white markers, without experiencing some measure of heartfelt gratitude for those who took up arms in defense of liberty.

But I think the most moving moment of our trip occurred away from the statues and well manicured gravesites of the fallen there in DC. Our bus labored through the hills of the Pennsylvania countryside, away from the traffic of the turnpike and the crowds of the cities, ending up in a farm field where a memorial had been set up to honor the passengers aboard Flight 93 which crashed there on 9/11 ten years ago.

The national park service has constructed a visitor's area with a long walkway marking where the plane crashed and burned with a wall at the end honoring each of the passengers by name. Eventually a visitor's center will be constructed on this site as well.

Before we had a chance to get off the bus, a ranger came aboard to recount the story of those 40 heroic passengers who determined to re-take the plane from the hijackers, finally breaking into the cockpit and forcing the terrorist pilot to deliberately crash the plane only 20 minutes flight time from Washington DC.

It was a sad story even if we already knew how it ended. I thought it ironic that our bus had 40 passengers, the same number that flew on that fateful flight. The ranger said that DNA tests positively identified each one of them, something that didn't happen for those dead and missing at the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers. At least the families of those killed in Flight 93 would have some remnant of their loved ones to bury home.

I was surprised at the number of visitors here this October weekday afternoon. But I wasn't surprised that a number of those visitors shed tears as they looked out at the crash site that has long since grown green, with no evidence of the jet that crashed and incinerated while flying 500 miles an hour upside down.

It's more than a memorial, more than a tribute to those people who had been strangers before they were taken prisoner, led to the back of the plane, then voted to put a plan into action which at the very least saved the lives of many innocent victims.

It's where heroes lie.


Anonymous Debbie said...

Beautifully said, Dave.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

I totally agree Debbie-this is a standout post Dave.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

DEBBIE/CARINE--Thanks. I was really inspired by that memorial near Shanksville in Pennsylvania. Inspired and touched both.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a cold day and I had no coat to wear...I walked the wall embracing the warmth of the souls.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

ANONYMOUS--Eloquently put.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Yoga in Mirrormont said...

Your beautifully written post is a moving tribute to those dear souls, Dave. We should all remember these heroes with solemn pride.

My family is going to observe two minutes of silence in honor of our veterans at 11:11(11/11/11) today (Veterans/Armistice/Remembrance Day) as they do in UK and Australia.

And, alas, I shall refrain from Wolverine enmity for one day in honor of your post.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BONNIE--Thank you for the compliment. I've been inspired in the past "in remembrance" which is why I've done eulogies for departed relatives.

Since you're not picking on my Wolverines, I'll do likewise and not mention the Veteran's Day Carrier Classic.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Nankin said...

Great post, Dave.

10:44 AM  

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