Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 25, 2009

Memory and meaning in late May (IV)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on May 25, 2009

There were three targets on September 11, 2001:  the World Trade Center, Pentagon and either the White House or Capitol.

It is meaningful to me that while attacks on symbols of American economic and military power were completed, the attack on our political institutions failed.   The passengers on United Flight 93 chose, in the words of Pericles, “to die resisting, rather than to live submitting.”

In the midst of profound confusion and turmoil — and with only about 35 minutes –  free men and women chose what they knew to be self-sacrificing action.

Passenger Jeremy Glick reported  the passengers voted to rush the hijackers.  Passenger Tom Burnett concluded his last cell-phone call with, “Don’t worry, we’re going to do something.”

On Memorial Day we honor our fallen heroes.  It is especially a day to honor those who died in uniform.  But in this century the distinction between combatant and non-combatant will be obscured.  In defense of freedom, we each have a role to play.  We  cannot be sure how and when we will be called to duty.

In the confusion and turmoil of our days, may we recall Lincoln’s charge to the living, “from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2009 @ 9:53 am

My guess is this show of resistence may well have sent an enduring message to potential aircraft hijackers.

Comment by Peter J. Brown

May 25, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

Back in the mid-1980′s, when my otherwise obscure essay entitled, “Should Americans Sit Still for Hijackers?” appeared in “Security Management” magazine, I was given a sound thrashing by my critics. One critic declared that a magazine like “Security Management” was no place for fiction. Yes, I admit my scenario was a bit farfetched. Regardless, my assertion that some form of active resistance to an aircraft hijacking needed to be discussed both in general — and on a tactical level as well — was quickly and effectively vetoed. Only a handful of people came forward to express their support for my stance.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

Interesting comment Peter! Personally having once been asked back in the 70′s if I wanted to be an air marshall for 6 months (answer NO) I had assumed that program still existed and also the requirement to safeguard the cockpit for any number of reasons including psychotic passengers. Later found out both were lobbied against by the industry when costs were to be born by them. What many do not know is that Tom Daschle’s wife was instrumental in securing the first $5 Billion after 9/11 for the airlines and deflecting from them any culpability. Of course the entirety of TSA is born by taxpayers not airlines. Well, you say with the econmics of travel, gas prices, etc. the airlines are a needy business and need direct and indirect subsidation. Okay is that what business is about in the US, corporate capitalizm where federal investments go to pick winners and losers! Guess so since both parties support that version of free-market capitalism.The tax code alone contains the real subsidy to the airline industry. Boeing is certainly not an independent manufacturer of airplanes as it claims when compared to AIRBUS and of course the defense contractors are totally outside the “Free” enterprise system.

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