Three years ago I wrote about this concept of teens needing real-life heroes, and I highlighted one of my own heroes, Gerda Weismann Klein, who persevered through the Holocaust as a young Jewish woman from Poland who ended up marrying the American soldier who found her and saved her on her 21st birthday. Mrs. Klein was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work at letting the world know her story, by talking with educators and teenagers and proving that anyone can overcome anything if their will is strong enough. Gerda will always be one of my heroes.
Today, on the 12th anniversary of September 11, 2001, another group of heroes has been featured in today’s Kansas City Star (Park 2). So many Americans know of the day the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon was attacked, but Ms. Park decided to focus on the fourth airplane---the one that did not make it to its intended target: United Flight 93 which held 33 passengers and a piloting/flight attendant crew. The person Ms. Park focuses on is a man named Todd Beamer, 32, who when the passengers were shuffled to the back of the airplane and they knew there was trouble brewing, Beamer called on his fellow passengers to overtake the airplane and not let the terrorists use it as a weapon against whatever U.S. government destination they intended to attack.
He grabbed the nearest air phone to try and reach his wife, Lisa, but instead was connected with a Verizon Operator, Lisa Jefferson (Park 2). Beamer told Ms. Jefferson what was happening on the plane and that the passengers, including him, did not intend on letting the terrorists create more mass destruction by plowing the plane into an occupied building. He spoke with Ms. Jefferson for at least fifteen minutes, as opposed to begging to be connected to his wife who was then pregnant with their third child. Beamer had a goal, he rallied his like-minded passengers together, and together, they managed to create a counter attack so that the plane crash landed, “about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh” (Park 2). While their actions cost them their own lives, they easily saved the lives of hundreds of unsuspecting people on the ground who had no idea what was happening in the air that day.
Later, Lisa Beamer, Todd’s wife, explained that his last words, “Let’s Roll” were not just a random saying or a cry for attack; they were an attitude both of them had about facing life’s difficulties and dealing with them head on instead of ignoring them, hoping they would go away or letting them grow into bigger problems. Lisa’s reaction to this horrible tragedy is just as heroic as Todd’s actions. She persevered. She remained strong for her two children and the one she was about to bear. “Her grief, denial, doubts and acceptance—acceptance that she’s now a single mother of three small children and that she has to move forward with life” is just as heroic as the actions of her late husband (Park 18). She is a survivor, just like Gerda Weismann Klein. She is surviving and she is caring for those three darling children of hers even though Daddy is in Heaven. Both Beamers were heroic that day, and Lisa’s perseverance is an example to anyone calling themselves a mommy or a daddy.
Park, Therese. “On 9/11, Remember Who’s Really in Charge.” The Kansas City Star. Northland Section. September 11, 2013.