It’s 9/11, I shouldn’t be writing a thanks – I should be writing a memorial, so I intend to do both. I’m not a crying person. I was still in grade school 13 years ago. I’m Canadian. But there’s still a brand of story that always chokes me up: people giving up something precious to help other people. And for all its flaws and tragedy, 9/11 is a beautiful example of this.
Today my thanks is for the people of Flight 93. Thanks for their actions and thanks for the broader representation of the good that people can do in a situation with no good options.
Flight 93 is the plane that never made it to the target. It’s the plane that crashed in an abandoned area, it’s the plane where the passengers decided that extending their lives for the duration of the flight wasn’t worth the sacrifice of those on the ground. Empirically speaking they minimized casualties. Emotionally speaking they became heroes simply by thinking of others beyond themselves.
I say simply about something that’s not simple. I can’t imagine that they thought there was any way of surviving that flight so they decided to make their deaths mean something.
Not an act of terrorism designed to instill fear, but an act of hope and love on a day when hope and love seemed impossible. Hope and love doesn’t always mean good things. Hope and love can mean dying, it can mean giving up. But that’s what makes me all the more thankful, these representations of something beautiful within something terrible.
Us homo sapiens have a bit of bad rap when it comes to disasters. We fight. We panic. We loot. We flee. We trample each other. We generally act irrational. That’s what we see in movies and in real life. But incidences like this one, Flight 93 inside of 9/11 demonstrate that we’re also more. We may flee but we’ll come back to help. We may fight but we’re capable of doing the right thing. We’re capable of saving lives at the cost of our own.
When the occasion rises, we’re all capable of being heroes. Even with death standing over our shoulders and a gun in our face. Hope and love carry on through the chaos. The every day person who helped where they could. The first responders. The second responders. Flight 93.
The best memorial I can think of on this day is to find some darkness and fill up a little corner of it with hope and love. To be thankful for our ability to do so, to move beyond and against the fear and violence. So Flight 93, I wasn’t on that plane. I don’t know what was really going through your head or your real motivations. But you can inspire me anyway, you saved lives, you gave hope.