Wednesday 25 April 2018

Real heroes must not be forgotten

Eamonn Sweeney

They were sportsmen. Jeremy Glick had been an American colleges judo champion, Mark Bingham had won national titles with the University of California Berkeley rugby team, Tom Burnett had been a high school star quarterback in Minnesota and been recruited by several colleges before ending up at St Johns University where his career was cut short by injury, Todd Beamer had played baseball for Fresno State University.

Ten years ago today, they caught United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark International Airport, New Jersey heading to San Francisco. They weren't expecting the day to be anything extraordinary. None of us were.

The flight took off at 8.42 in the morning and 46 minutes later was hijacked by three al-Qaeda terrorists who may have planned to fly into either the White House or the Capitol in Washington.

That this did not happen, and that the great loss of life which would have occurred was prevented, owes a great deal to Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Todd Beamer who stormed the cockpit to try and regain control of the plane. They were seconds away from doing so when the hijackers deliberately crashed the Boeing 757 into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. All 44 people on board died but the death toll elsewhere would surely have been much higher without the passenger revolt.

Tom Burnett was 38, Todd Beamer was 32, Jeremy Glick and Mark Bingham were 31. I think it's worth remembering them in your prayers today, lighting a candle or, if you're not that way inclined, just thinking about their bravery and how their friends and families must feel today.

They were sportsmen. And they were heroes.

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