In Brief: Remember Todd Beamer
His heroism on 9/11 drew from a lifetime of faith and character.
Most Americans probably know the name Todd Beamer, even if they can’t quite place why. He’s the guy who, as far as we know, led the passenger revolt on Flight 93 when terrorists hijacked it with the intent to strike a target in the nation’s capital on 9/11. Wall Street Journal editorial writer Mene Ukueberuwa remembers him because we all “ought to know more about Todd Beamer.”
A 32-year-old software salesman for Oracle, Beamer was among the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who attacked the hijackers and prevented them from crashing the Boeing 757 into the U.S. Capitol. His rallying cry, “Let’s roll,” rests in America’s memory. It is exalting to think of what he and his fellow passengers did on that short flight, and the people they saved on the ground.
Beamer remained poised under extreme pressure. Many passengers made phone calls during the flight, but Beamer’s call with Airfone operator Lisa Jefferson became the fullest account of what took place in the air that day. He remained on the line for 14 minutes, describing the direction of the plane, the hijackers’ behavior and, eventually, the passengers’ decision to revolt.
“His voice was devoid of any stress,” Ms. Jefferson later said. “In fact, he sounded so tranquil it made me begin to doubt the authenticity and urgency of his call.”
Beamer was a tough athlete. He played baseball and basketball and, his wife Lisa recalled, he even “once played a soccer game with a broken jaw.” That athleticism came into play when the hijackers “pitched the plane back and forth sharply in a failed attempt to shake their attackers off their feet.” But Todd was more than just tough as nails. He was a man of faith:
A strong Christian faith also carried Beamer toward his fate. Lisa recounts that their life together was founded on faith — at Wheaton, while rearing children, and teaching Sunday school at Princeton Alliance Church.
Before ending his call with Ms. Jefferson, Beamer asked, “Would you do one last thing for me?”
“Yes. What is it?” she answered.
“Would you pray with me?”
They said the Lord’s Prayer together in full, and other passengers joined in. Beamer then recited Psalm 23, concluding, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Immediately after, he turned to his co-conspirators and asked, “Are you guys ready? OK, let’s roll.”
Todd Beamer is one of 2,977 innocents we ought to always remember. In part, that’s because he was an American just like us. “You might also want to take a look around,” says Ukueberuwa. “An American hero might have lived in your own hometown.”
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