Echoes from Shanksville, PA: Twelve years later

Through my life, I’ve had to say goodbye to people I knew; too many times for one person so young to have to endure. One just assumes that this is life, and we are all meant to die at one point in time, no matter what the circumstance. Some pass on from natural causes, some go out doing what they love, and in the case of 40 people, they will be forever known as heroes who gave their lives on a day in September so that others could be spared.

September 11, 2001 is one of the darkest days in American history, and as one who can remember every single detail of that day, it certainly rings true to me. Many were affected on that day because of the images on the television, and the horrible feeling in their gut when they saw the second plane enter the South Tower.

For me, that feeling came when I saw a name I knew come across the screen as one of the people on Flight 93.

Sandy Bradshaw was a person who one was privileged to know because of her infectious smile and love for everyone she met, especially her husband and family. This name rings familiar with many people, even if they don’t know her, because she was one of the main orchestrators of the people who would attempt to retake the plane as it flew towards our nation’s capital.

Last night, I watched a National Geographic documentary about 9/11 and the events that took place as they happened. It was amazing how 12 years later, that same exact feeling I had back in my junior year of high school found its way back into my stomach. I sat and watched as the events of that day unfolded. As the documentary proceeded, it focused on United Flight 93. What happened next in the documentary, I was not prepared for.

An actual recording of a call made from the flight was played: it was Sandy’s voice talking to someone at United Airlines’ call center. “My name is Sandy Bradshaw,” the call started. “I’m attendant number three on board. Number two has been stabbed, and five men have taken the plane hostage.” The call continued for another minute or so, but hearing her voice was something I hadn’t heard in over 12 years.

The documentary later progressed to show how the passengers and remaining crew had tried to fight back, based on the other calls being made on board. As we all know now, the flight never made it to its target. Whether a passenger or crew member had taken the plane over is not known.

Today is a hard day for most Americans to get through, but the memories of those who died will never be forgotten. We live on in remembrance of this day so that the 2,984 who died didn’t do so in vain. Everyone on that day in America is a hero, because we all stood tall and showed the world that, as former President George Bush said, “We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

So today, as I remember my dear friend Sandy, and those who fought to keep us as safe as possible on that terrible day, remember that because of them, we will always have something to fight for, and will always be the United States of America.