Marines.Together We Served

Monday, April 17, 2006

The American Male

It’s difficult to imagine, but many Americans seem to have forgotten the horrors associated with the events of 9-11. Hollywood is reminding us.

A new movie, to be released April 28th, is “United 93,” the story about 9-11 in general, and the particulars of the fourth hijacked plane – United Airlines flight 93, departing Newark, New Jersey, scheduled to arrive in San Francisco about five hours later. We know they never got there. It ended up as rubble in the Pennsylvania countryside.

My initial reaction when hearing about a movie about Flight 93, was, “What spin is some Hollywood producer going to put on this event?”

I have not seen the movie as yet, but intend to do so once it’s out. Why? Because I have heard and read a number of very positive reviews. In fact, Rush Limbaugh attended a private screening and said there are parts in the movie where you want to stand up and cheer. That got my attention.

On one of the movie’s web sites, I read the official comments made by the director of the movie. He said, “The terrible dilemma those passengers faced is the same we have been struggling with ever since. Do we sit passively and hope this all turns out okay? Or do we fight back and strike at them before they strike at us? And what will be the consequences if we do?”

I thought, “Is the director correct? Are we faced with a ‘terrible dilemma’ should any one of us find ourselves in such a situation?” Well, yes, it would be a terrible choice, but not a difficult choice. I say that because either way you are going to die. That realization, once understood, makes the choice easier. I would rather die attempting to thwart the bad guys, than to simply sit in my seat until whatever end may occur. In point of fact, I would enjoy making it more difficult for the bad guys. There would be some satisfaction in that.

One of the callers to Rush’s show was a retired United Airlines pilot. He said he knew the flight crew of United 93. He and a female pilot on 93 were both reserve police officers and had shared many hours together flying the friendly skies. Not long after 9-11, this pilot said he was briefing a crew as to what to do should another such hijacking take place. He told the flight attendants that if they had any trouble with a passenger to simply announce over the public address system that a flight attendant was having problems with a passenger in Row X, Seat Y. And then get out of the way. One flight attendant asked, “Why get out of the way?” His answer? Because the American male is alive and well and every man on board will rush to your assistance.

I got to thinking about that because my own reaction after 9-11 is that never again would American men sit by and allow themselves or others to be mercilessly slaughtered without putting up a fight. Every time I board an airplane now I look all around me. I’ve always done this, but I’m much more aware now than ever before. I want to know my surroundings, the configuration of the airplane, where the exits are, and what sort of flight attendants are on board. I also look to see if there are other American males who would put up with any nonsense should we be confronted by bad guys.

Frequently I’m asked by family and friends how my flight was. My standard reply is, “Uneventful – just the way I like it.” May it ever be so.

But if the fools who think our nation is weak should try such tactics again, then they should prepare to be surprised. The “Let’s Roll” spirit of Todd Beamer from United 93 resides in the hearts of all Americans.

We will continue to bicker and fight amongst ourselves as Americans. But when threatened – we are no longer Democrat or Republican, no longer Liberal or Conservative, no longer White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or some other ethnic group – for we are Americans all.

And we will defend each other and our beloved nation, whatever the cost.

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