September 14, 2001, WPXI News11, Local Terrorist Suspects, Reported by Alan Jennings,
September 16, 2001, WPXI News11, Attack on America Hits Pennsylvania,September 17, 2001, WPXI News11, Federal Agents Continue Search, Reported by Alan Jennings,
September 25, 2001, WPXI News11, Ridge to Leave Governor's Office; Aid Bush in Anti-Terrorism,
November 15, 2001, WPXI News11, Ridge's Bio,
September 11, 2002, WPXI News11, Protecting the Homeland,
September 23, 2002, WPXI News11, Flight 93: Courage in the Sky,
September 24, 2001, WPXI News11, Somerset County Crash Update,December 16, 2002, WPXI News11, Flight 93: Courage in the Sky, Let's Roll!: Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis,
December 26, 2002, WPXI News11, Protecting the Homeland,
September 13, 2001, WPXI News11, Passengers Thwarted Hijackers, by Mike Wagner and Ken McCall,
Evidence mounted Wednesday that the fate of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into the cornfields of rural Western Pennsylvania Tuesday, was determined by a group of passengers who apparently attacked the plane's hijackers.
Newspaper and television news outlets reported at least four phone calls from passengers aboard the Boeing 757 indicating it had been hijacked. In addition, at least two of the callers told loved ones they were going to try to do something to thwart the hijackers, according to the reports.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said Wednesday he has "no doubts" passengers heroically struggled with terrorists to stop the plane from reaching a target in Washington.
"I personally believe there was a struggle on that plane and some people made a heroic effort to make sure that plane didn't hit a populated area," said Murtha, who served as an intelligence officer in the Vietnam War. "I think those heroic people said to themselves, 'We know we are going to die, so let's make sure they can't get to anyone else.'"
Flight 93 was the only one of four hijacked planes Tuesday that did not hit a major target. Two struck the World Trade Center's Twin Towers and another hit the Pentagon. Flight 93 left Newark, N.J., at 8:01 a.m. headed for San Francisco. It crashed about 10 a.m., roughly an hour or so after the trade center was hit. All 45 on board were killed.
Investigators say they can't yet comment on what caused the crash. Murtha believes terrorists intended to take Flight 93 to the nation's capitol to strike another key national facility. The Capitol building, Andrews Air Force Base and even Camp David have all been suggested as possible targets.
Special Agent Roland Corvington, the FBI's on-site commander, said the agency is aware of calls made by passengers from the plane, but wouldn't make any further comment.
One passenger, Thomas E. Burnett Jr., of San Ramon, Calif., called his wife, Deena, and told her the plane had been hijacked, according to Rev. Frank Colacicco of St. Isidore's Catholic Church, where the Burnetts are parish members.
"She was talking to her husband on the phone. . . . He said one of the passengers had been stabbed. He said, 'I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it,' " Colacicco said.
Burnett, 38, the chief operating officer of Thoratec Corp., and father of three, said, "I love you honey and that was the end of the conversation," according to Colacicco.
Colacicco said he did all he could to help Deena Burnett cope with the tragedy and his church held a prayer vigil for the family.
"He gave his life for others," the priest said.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that passenger Jeremy Glick used a cell phone to call his wife at home in New Jersey and told her that he and several other passenger had come up with a plan to resist the hijackers, according to Glick's brother-in-law, Douglas B. Hurwitt.
"They were going to stop whoever it was from doing whatever it was they'd planned," Hurwitt told the Post. "He knew that stopping them was going to end all of their lives. But that was my brother-in-law. He was a take-charge guy."
According to the news report, Glick told his wife the plane had been taken over by three Middle Eastern men wearing red headbands. The hijackers, wielding knives and brandishing a red box they claimed contained a bomb, ordered the passengers, pilots and flight attendants toward the rear of the plane, then took over the cockpit.
Family members told Glick about the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Glick then took a poll of the men on the plane and told his family they had voted to confront the hijackers, according to the report.
Alice Hoglan, meanwhile, told the Dayton Daily News , that her son, San Francisco resident Mark Bingham, called from Flight 93, using the air phone in the seat in front of him just 15 minutes before the jet crashed.
Bingham, a 31-year-old public relations executive, also said he plane had been taken over by "three guys who say they have a bomb," said Hoglan, who is a United Airlines flight attendant.
She said her son sounded flustered and was eventually cut off.
"I believe Mark took action with the other guys. He was not the kind of person that would sit back and let something like that happen," Hoglan said. "I was very proud he was my son."
The accounts from these relatives, indicating possible turmoil in the cockpit, dovetail with the account of one witness from the ground, who saw the plan rollover shortly before the crash.
"It came in low over the trees and started wobbling," said Tim Thornsberg, a resident of Somerset County, who was working near an old strip mine when he saw the plane.
"Then it just rolled over and was flying upside down for a few seconds ... and then it kind of stalled and did a nose dive over the trees. It was just unreal to see something like that."
Thornsberg has given his account to FBI agents.
These accounts refute speculation that the plane might have been shot down to prevent another suicide attack on Washington -- a theory Rep. Murtha also denied.
Charles Sturtz, who lives about a half-mile from the crash site, said he saw the plane in the air for a few seconds, and saw no smoke, heard no explosions before the crash and saw no other planes in the sky.
The plane was heading southeast he said, and had its engines running.
"It was really roaring, you know. Like it was trying to go someplace, I guess, " the 53-year-old carpenter said.
Murtha said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told him directly the plane not been shot down, and Westmoreland County Public Safety spokesman Dan Stevens reacted strongly to such talk.
"No, that's false. That's false," Stevens said. "There was contact with the plane through the whole thing and there's radio transmissions that people could have been listening to that know what was going on. So that information was not true."
More than 80 investigators and emergency workers from the FBI, National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other agencies were scouring the crash site until it became dark on Wednesday.
The site, designated as a crime scene by the FBI, stretches more than three acres in the rural fields.
The crash impact left a crater estimated to be 10-feet deep and 20-feet wide. The site was still smoldering Wednesday afternoon and investigators said "hot spots" caused by jet fuel had flared up in the early morning hours. Small patches of smoke could be seen billowing into the trees next to the crater.
Site investigators, working under a hot sun, planted white and yellow flags around the site, indicating they had located a piece of evidence or remains from a victim. United Airlines officials said one eight-member family from New Jersey was already traveling by bus Wednesday to visit the crash site.
FBI officials made it clear that recovering the plane's cockpit voice recorder, the so-called black box, remains a top priority in the early stages of an investigation that could take an estimated three to five weeks.
"The value of the information contained in that black box can not be overstated," Corvington said.
September 14, 2001, WPXI News11, Local Terrorist Suspects, Reported by Alan Jennings, Updated 12:55 p.m.,
The Pittsburgh branch of the FBI is asking all law enforcement to stop and hold for questioning:
He is believed to be driving a red Grand AM.
Pa. License Plate DRN-4860
The vehicle is described as an Alamo Rental car and is believed to be traveling from The Pittsburgh International Airport en route to Quebec, Canada.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Pittsburgh FBI.New Castle Suspect
A New Castle man suspected by the FBI to be involved in Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. has been cleared and is no longer a suspect in the investigation.
Agents entered the Dr. Basem Hussein's condominium apartment in the Meadows complex in Neshannock Township Tuesday night.
The search was triggered after the complex manager, who hadn't seen the doctor for some time, entered his apartment to check on the welfare of the apartment and its tenant.
Sources told Target 11 that inside were instructional manuals on how to fly various commercial jetliners, including computer software on flight instruction.
Dr. Hussein has been working as a contracted medical doctor at the Indian Health Services in Shiprock, New Mexico since early September. FBI Albuquerque served a subpoena issued in Pennsylvania on Dr. Hussein Wednesday and was detained.
He was traced to New Mexico after Allegheny County Police found and impounded his car at Pittsburgh International Airport.
The FBI is the lead agency in the cases involving the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the related aircraft hijackings. An unprecedented, enormous investigation is ongoing. Thousands of tips have been received from the public.
September 16, 2001, WPIX11, Attack on America Hits Pennsylvania,
The FBI said Saturday that two other planes were in the area when hijacked United Flight 93 rammed into a field in western Pennsylvania but had nothing to do with the crash.
The revelation came a day after a Defense Department official said that the military had been monitoring the plane and was in a position to intercept it. Some witnesses had claimed seeing a military aircraft in the area shortly after the crash.
FBI Special Agent Bill Crowley said Saturday that a civilian business jet flying to Johnstown -- about 20 miles north of the crash site -- was within 20 miles of the low-flying airliner, but at an altitude of 37,000 feet.
Officials Crowley didn't identify asked the business jet's pilot to descend to 5,000 feet -- an unusual maneuver -- to help locate the crash site for responding emergency crews. That could explain why some witnesses have said they saw another plane in the sky shortly after Flight 93 crashed about 10 a.m. Tuesday in a grassy field about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, killing all 45 aboard.
"It's obvious a lot of people would have seen" the business jet, Crowley said.
Crowley also said there was a C-130 military cargo aircraft about 17 miles away flying at 24,000 feet when Flight 93 crashed. The military plane had no weapons on board. Crowley said he did not know where it was coming from or going, but said its crew reported seeing smoke or dust near the crash site.
Crowley didn't say what, if anything, people on the business jet saw, declining to identify them or the owner of that plane.
On Friday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that the military had been monitoring the plane. But Wolfowitz echoed other officials aware of cellular phone calls made by passengers to the families, who -- told by relatives that other planes had crashed into the World Trade Center towers -- said they planned to take action against the terrorists.
"I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down, but the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to," he told PBS's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer."
Also Saturday, Crowley said no indications of a bomb have been found, but it was too early to rule that out. One of the passengers who called relatives said that the hijackers claimed to have a bomb.
Most of the plane's debris was found in a crater in this rural area. While singed papers and other light debris were found up to eight miles away, Crowley said such materials could easily have been carried on the wind.
State police said eight family members of a victim or victims visited the crash site Friday, leaving flowers, photos and a U.S. flag on a hill overlooking the site. Officials said family members of 28 victims hoped to visit the site, but it was not immediately known if that occurred.
Family members were staying at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, about 20 miles west of the crash site. Although a room was prepared for them to address the media, none has opted to do so.
Meanwhile, the painstaking search for crash debris and human remains continued.
Workers are using heavy equipment to scoop dirt from the site, and then box strainers to sift through each shovelful individually, in a site marked into 20-foot-square grids, Crowley said.
Recovery teams found the plane's cockpit voice recorder just after sundown Friday. Investigators believe it may reveal an attempt by passengers to wrest control of the aircraft from hijackers shortly before impact.
The crash was the last of four that toppled the twin towers and damaged the Pentagon. Some have speculated that the four hijackers planned to target Camp David in Maryland, the Capitol or even the White House.
The voice recorder, which was found about 25 feet below ground in a crater left by the plane, was sent to a National Transportation Safety Board laboratory in Washington. The plane's flight data recorder was discovered Thursday
September 17, 2001, WPXI News11, Federal Agents Continue Search, Reported by Alan Jennings,
In what is being called the largest investigation in U.S. history, federal agents continue to gather information about suspects in Tuesday's tragedy.
Three men are being held in New York for interrogation. More people with links to the hijackers are being tracked down.
Target 11 investigator Alan Jennings has learned the FBI has seized lists of student pilots from training schools here in western Pennsylvania.
They're working from a hot-list of FBI suspects... all terrorists or those linked to them. And, among those flight schools, we discovered FBI agents paid a visit to Beaver Aviation.
FBI agents came here to beaver aviation with one thing in mind...to examine the list of student pilots for the last six years.
"We went down and got into the data base we have and went back clean till 1995 and was able to supply them with a list of all the pilots which had graduated out of our program here."
Rabassi said he turned over this list to the FBI agents and they just rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
"They actually stayed here and took our list of pilots and spent probably an hour or so going through a list they had. They were comparing notes and to see if there were any addresses or names that appeared to be ones that maybe they had on their list."
But there was one that got their attention.
"It was I think they were looking for specific last names or anything that rhymed with it."
Then, the agents probed a little deeper.
"It was just a couple letters off and they asked us where his address was and we gave it to them."
Agents asked Dale Rabassi about another name on their FBI list but Rabassi told them it was name he didn't recognize.
The name they did take is one we'll be watching.
September 24, 2001, WPIX11, Somerset County Crash Update,
FBI investigators have concluded no explosive was involved in the crash of United Flight 93, the only one of four aircraft hijacked Sept. 11 which did not claim a life on the ground.
Passengers on the flight, in cell phone calls made before the crash, said one of their captors had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to him. At least three of the passengers said they planned to confront the hijackers just before the plane crashed, killing all 44 on board.
The passengers have been hailed as heroes. Speculation is high that Flight 93 was headed toward a target in Washington on the same day aircraft had been used as missiles at the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, FBI special agent Bill Crowley said the agency has finished its investigation at the crash site, collecting about 95 percent of the Boeing 757 which crashed into a rural field near Shanksville, Somerset County, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Crowley said the FBI has determined from the on-site investigation that no explosive was involved in the crash. He said no bomb residue was found at the crash site and there was no evidence the plane broke up before it hit the ground. "Nothing was found that was inconsistent with the plane going into the ground intact," Crowley said.
He did not release any information about evidence recovered, if any, from the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. Both were found in the days following the crash. Crowley said the aircraft parts have been turned over to United Airlines. He said Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller will take over responsibility for the crash site, which will be enclosed with a fence and patrolled. Eventually, the hole where the plane crashed will be filled in and replanted.
Miller has identified 11 of the 44 victims by using dental records and fingerprints, but he has not released their names out of respect for the victims' families. He said he did not know when those names would be released.
"If I release the names, everybody is going to be going to them," Miller said.
The coroner said he believes most of the human remains at the site have been recovered but it is possible other remains could be found.
"We're not naive enough to think we've gotten everything," Miller said.
He said DNA testing will be used in an attempt to identify the other remains and said that process could take several months. After the crash about 10 a.m. Sept. 11, FBI officials said they expected the work at the site to take three to five weeks. On Monday, Crowley said good weather and a large number of workers -- as many as 1,500 in less than two weeks' time -- allowed the work to go more quickly.
He said the biggest piece of the aircraft which was found was a piece of the outer portion of the fuselage, which measures about 6 feet by 7 feet and included four windows. The heaviest piece found was a part of an engine fan weighing about 1,000 pounds, Crowley said.
United Flight 93 was bound from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco on Sept. 11 when it suddenly turned near Cleveland and flew back across Pennsylvania toward Washington.
September 25, 2001, WPXI News11, Ridge to Leave Governor's Office; Aid Bush in Anti-Terrorism,
The president's new anti-terrorism czar is Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.
President Bush said in his address to Congress and the nation tonight that Ridge will head the new Office of Homeland Security -- a Cabinet-level position.
Ridge will leave office Oct. 5th and Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mark Schweiker will take over until the term expires in 2003.
Ridge, who's 56, attended Harvard University and served as an enlisted man in ground combat during the Vietnam War.
A Republican who's sometimes angered the conservative wing of his party over the years, Ridge was twice mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president -- for a brief period during Bob Dole's run for the presidency in 1996, and more prominently as a potential running mate for Bush.
Ridge frequently wears a hearing aid in his left ear to correct problems that started in childhood and worsened in Vietnam.
He and his wife have two adopted children.
October 11, 2001, KPIX CBS5 / Associated Press, United Airlines Flight 93: List of Victims
Here is a partial list of passengers and crew on United Flight 93, Newark N.J. to San Francisco, according to family members, friends, co-workers and local law enforcement. Flight 93 crashed in rural southwest Pennsylvania.
- Jason Dahl, Colorado, captain
- Leroy Homer, Marlton, N.J., first officer
- Lorraine Bay, flight attendant
- Sandra Bradshaw, 38, Greensboro, N.C., flight attendant
- Wanda Green, flight attendant
- CeeCee Lyles, Fort Myers, Fla., flight attendant
- Deborah Welsh, flight attendant
PASSENGERS: [25 names]
- Christian Adams
- Todd Beamer
- Alan Beaven
- Mark Bingham, 31, San Francisco
- Deora Bodley
- Marion Britton
- Thomas E. Burnett Jr., 38, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Thoratec Corp.
- William Cashman
- Georgine Corrigan
- Joseph Deluca
- Patrick Driscoll
- Edward Felt
- Colleen Fraser
- Andrew Garcia
- Jeremy Glick
- Lauren Grandcolas, Marin County, Calif.
- Donald Greene
- Linda Gronlund
- Richard Guadagno
- Waleska Martinez
- Nicole Miller
- Mark Rothenberg
- Christine Snyder, 32, Kailua, Hawaii
- John Talignani
- Honor Wainio
November 15, 2001, WPXI News11, Ridge's Bio,
Ridge plans to resign as governor on Oct. 5. Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker will step forward to succeed him as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Born in Pittsburgh's Steel Valley, Governor Ridge was raised in a working-class family in veterans' public housing in Erie. He earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967. After his first year at The Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning to Pennsylvania and earning his law degree, he became an assistant district attorney in Erie County. He was elected to Congress in 1982, a Republican in a heavily Democratic district. He was the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House, and was overwhelmingly re-elected six times.
Governor Ridge was sworn in as Pennsylvania's 43rd governor on January 17, 1995. Ridge's performance was affirmed decisively on November 3, 1998, when voters re-elected him with 57 percent of the vote in a four-way race. Ridge's vote percentage was the highest for a Republican governor in Pennsylvania (where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000) in more than half a century. His 780,000-vote victory margin was the largest for a Republican governor in state history.
Governor Ridge has kept his promise to make Pennsylvania "a leader among states and a competitor among nations." In May 2000, he signed the largest tax cut in state history -- nearly $775 million. Governor Ridge has cut taxes every year he's been in office. Since 1995, Pennsylvania families and employers have saved nearly $15 billion through tax cuts, workers' compensation reform, reduced red tape and electric competition. These savings helped to create more than 350,000 new jobs. PA has one of the nation's lowest personal income tax rates and the most competitive utility markets -- the first state to enable consumers to shop competitively for both electricity and natural gas. PA has been named the No. 1 state for electric deregulation. And PA's tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zones were named the No. 1 statewide economic-development strategy. Governor Ridge signed the nation's first model E-commerce law. He eliminated the state tax on computer services. And, to close PA's "Digital Divide," he created a first-in-the-nation "Tax-Free PC" holiday.
Education reform always will be Governor Ridge's top priority. In May 2000, he signed into law the Education Empowerment Act, to help more than a quarter-million kids in PA's lowest-performing schools. He won passage of charter public schools; alternative education for disruptive students; professional development for teachers; and new standards requiring future teachers to earn higher grades in harder courses. He made an historic $125 million investment in reading and libraries, and he invested more than $200 million in education technology. In all, state support of Pennsylvania public schools has increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation. And Governor Ridge continues to fight for school choice for Pennsylvania parents and children.
Pennsylvania also has become a national leader in developing a new environmental partnership. Governor Ridge's common-sense Land Recycling Program is a national model; there now are more than 20,000 people working on nearly 800 formerly abandoned industrial sites. In 1999, he won passage of "Growing Greener," to make PA's largest environmental investment ever, nearly $650 million. In 2000, Governor Ridge won his "Growing Smarter" land-use plan, to give communities new land-use tools to control sprawl, while still respecting private property rights.
More than 100,000 children now get free or low-cost health care through PA's nationally recognized Children's Health Insurance Program -- a 145 percent increase since Governor Ridge took office in 1995. And Pennsylvania's welfare rolls are at their lowest point in three decades. Since Governor Ridge and the General Assembly made sweeping changes to the state's welfare system in 1996, more than 210,000 families have left the welfare rolls and have not returned.
Source: State of Pennsylvania
September 11, 2002, WPXI News11, Flight 93: Courage in the Sky
Motto & Commodity
Ever since Todd Beamer uttered ``Let's Roll!'' into his cell phone on September eleventh -- and United Flight 93 crashed into a Shanksville field -- the phrase has become a rallying cry for the war on terrorism.
It's also become a moneymaker.
Some entrepreneurs are squaring off over the right to sell ``Let's Roll!'' merchandise, while others are just doing it.
Beamer, a 32-year old account manager for Oracle who lived in New Jersey, died along with 43 others when the plane crashed.
The nonprofit group founded by Beamer's widow, Lisa, wants to trademark the phrase to make sure any money it raises goes to victims of the terrorist attacks.
That may prove difficult.
Two men, Iman Abdallah of Newark and Jack Williams of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office a few days before the foundation, setting up a possible court battle.
Reported by the Associated Press
September 11, 2002, WPXI News11, Protecting the Homeland,
In the aftermath of the attacks came serious questions about why America was caught so off guard on September 11, 2001. But more terrifying questions remained:
Would we be ready for another attack?
How could we prevent terrorism from striking America again?
Are airplanes and airports safe?
What about our nuclear facilities?
What can local governments do to protect us?
The nation now has a national alert system in place, that rates the level of threat against the country and its people.
With so many agencies and departments in all levels of government playing a role in protecting Americans, the President created an office, inside the White House, of Homeland Security. In the weeks after September 11th, he tapped former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge to head the office.
Now the President is proposing to create the Department of Homeland Security. This is the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over a half-century. The creation of this cabinet-level agency is an important step in the President's national strategy for homeland security.
So many threats remain. The anthrax scare a few weeks after the attack remains an unsolved act of terrorism. There are efforts underway to prepare to vaccinate the entire country against smallpox.
September 23, 2002, WPXI News11, Flight 93: Courage in the Sky,
United Flight 93 was 41 minutes late taking off from Newark International Airport, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
Less than 40 minutes later, chaos would erupt, as four of the passengers stormed the cockpit and took over the plane.
What transpired in the final, fatal moments aboard Flight 93 is a story of courage and sacrifice. The 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 were mostly strangers, from all walks of life. They knew what was taking place in New York and Washington. But in their life and death struggle in the sky over Pennsylvania, they stood united, in defiance of terrorism. They weren't going to let more innocent people die... not without a fight.
This was not how the residents of Shanksville, and all of Somerset County, wanted the world to learn about this quiet community southeast of Pittsburgh. But the eyes of the world would focus on Somerset County and they would come from all over America to see where 40 men and women gave their own lives to save others. In July, the world watched again, as rescuers struggled to save nine trapped miners. Some would ask if the Miracle at Quecreek Mine was redemption for a community that suffered so much.
This is also a story of emotional goodbyes, and the rallying cry that defined the day, and America's response: Let's Roll!
December 26, 2002, WPXI News11, Protecting the Homeland,
The Department of Homeland Security
The President is proposing to create the Department of Homeland Security. This is the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over a half-century. The creation of this cabinet-level agency is an important step in the President's national strategy for homeland security.
The Department of Homeland Security would have a clear and efficient organizational structure with four divisions, according to the White House:
Border and Transportation Security
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
The mission of the Department of Homeland Security would be to:
Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;
Reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism; and
Minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.
Border and Transportation Security
Securing our nation’s air, land, and sea borders is a difficult yet critical task. The United States has 5,525 miles of border with Canada and 1,989 miles with Mexico. Our maritime border includes 95,000 miles of shoreline, and a 3.4 million square mile exclusive economic zone. Each year, more than 500 million people cross the borders into the United States, some 330 million of whom are non-citizens.
The Department of Homeland Security would be responsible for securing our nation’s borders and transportation systems, which straddle 350 official ports of entry and connect our homeland to the rest of the world. The tasks of managing our borders and securing our transportation systems are directly related - indeed, at our international airports and seaports they are inseparable.
The Department would manage who and what enters our homeland, and work to prevent the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism while simultaneously ensuring the speedy flow of legitimate traffic. It would be the single federal Department in charge of all ports of entry, including security and inspection operations, and would manage and coordinate port of entry activities of other federal departments and agencies. The Department would lead efforts to create a border of the future that provides greater security through better intelligence, coordinated national efforts, and unprecedented international cooperation against terrorists, the instruments of terrorism, and other international threats. At the same time, it would help ensure that this border of the future better serves the needs of legitimate travelers and industry through improved efficiency.
The Department would lead work toward a state-of-the-art visa system, one in which visitors are identifiable by biometric information that is gathered during the visa application process. It would ensure that information is shared between databases of border management, law enforcement, and intelligence community agencies so that individuals who pose a threat to America are denied entry to the United States. It would also lead efforts to deploy an automated entry-exit system that would verify compliance with entry conditions, student status such as work limitations and duration of stay, for all categories of visas.
To carry out its border security mission the Department would incorporate the United States Customs Service (currently part of the Department of Treasury), the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol (Department of Justice), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Department of Agriculture), and the Transportation Security Administration (Department of Transportation). The Department would also incorporate the Federal Protective Service (General Services Administration) to perform the additional function of protecting government buildings, a task closely related to the Department’s infrastructure protection responsibilities.
The Department would secure our nation’s transportation systems, which move people from our borders to anywhere in the country within hours. The recently created Transportation Security Administration, which would become part of the new Department, has statutory responsibility for security of all modes of transportation and directly employs airport security and law enforcement personnel. Tools it uses include intelligence, regulation, enforcement, inspection, and screening and education of carriers, passengers and shippers. Its present focus on aviation security will not slow the government’s pace in addressing the security needs of other transportation modes. The incorporation of TSA into the new Department will allow the Department of Transportation to remain focused on its core mandate of ensuring that the nation has a robust and efficient transportation infrastructure that keeps pace with modern technology and the nation’s demographic and economic growth.
United States Coast Guard. In order to secure our nation’s territorial waters, including our ports and waterways, the Department would assume authority over the United States Coast Guard, which would maintain its existing independent identity as a military organization under the leadership of the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Upon declaration of war or when the President so directs, the Coast Guard would operate as an element of the Department of Defense, consistent with existing law.
The U.S. Coast Guard is charged with regulatory, law enforcement, humanitarian, and emergency response duties. It is responsible for the safety and security of America’s inland waterways, ports, and harbors; more than 95,000 miles of U.S. coastlines; U.S. territorial seas; 3.4 million square miles of ocean defining our Exclusive Economic Zones; as well as other maritime regions of importance to the United States.
The Coast Guard has command responsibilities for countering potential threats to America’s coasts, ports, and inland waterways through numerous port security, harbor defense, and coastal warfare operations and exercises. In the name of port security specifically, the Coast Guard has broad authority in the nation’s ports as "Captain of the Port." Recently the Coast Guard has worked to establish near shore and port domain awareness, and to provide an offshore force gathering intelligence and interdicting suspicious vessels prior to reaching U.S. shores.
Immigration and Visa Services. The new Department of Homeland Security would include the INS and would, consistent with the President’s long-standing position, separate immigration services from immigration law enforcement. The Department would build an immigration services organization that would administer our immigration law in an efficient, fair, and humane manner. The new Department would assume the legal authority to issue visas to foreign nationals and admit them into the country. The State Department, working through the United States embassies and consulates abroad, would continue to administer the visa application and issuance process. The Department would make certain that America continues to welcome visitors and those who seek opportunity within our shores while excluding terrorists and their supporters.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
We cannot assume that we can prevent all acts of terror and therefore must also prepare to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. As September 11 showed, the consequences of terrorism can be far-reaching and diverse. The Department of Homeland Security would ensure the preparedness of our nation’s emergency response professionals, provide the federal government’s response, and aid America’s recovery from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
To fulfill these missions, the Department of Homeland Security would build upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as one of its key components. It would continue FEMA’s efforts to reduce the loss of life and property and to protect our nation's institutions from all types of hazards through a comprehensive, risk-based, all-hazards emergency management program of preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. And it will continue to change the emergency management culture from one that reacts to terrorism and other disasters, to one that proactively helps communities and citizens avoid becoming victims.
In terms of preparedness, the Department would assume authority over federal grant programs for local and state first responders such as firefighters, police, and emergency medical personnel. Various offices in the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency currently manage those programs. In addition, the Department would develop and manage a national training and evaluation system to design curriculums, set standards, evaluate, and reward performance in local, state, and federal training efforts.
The Department would continue FEMA’s practice of focusing on risk mitigation in advance of emergencies by promoting the concept of disaster-resistant communities. It would continue current federal support for local government efforts that promote structures and communities that have a reduced chance of being impacted by disasters. It would bring together private industry, the insurance sector, mortgage lenders, the real estate industry, homebuilding associations, citizens, and others to create model communities in high-risk areas.
The Department would have responsibility for federal emergency response efforts. It would lead our national response to a biological attack, direct the Nuclear Emergency Search Teams, Radiological Emergency Response Team, Radiological Assistance Program, Domestic Emergency Support Team, National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, and the National Disaster Medical System, and manage the Metropolitan Medical Response System. The Department would also coordinate the involvement of other federal response assets such as the National Guard in the event of a major incident.
The consequences of a terrorist attack are wide-ranging and can include: loss of life and health, destruction of families, fear and panic, loss of confidence in government, destruction of property, and disruption of commerce and financial markets. The Department would lead federal efforts to promote recovery from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. The Department would maintain FEMA’s procedures for aiding recovery from natural and terrorist disasters.
Incident Management. The Department would work with federal, state, and local public safety organizations to build a comprehensive national incident management system for response to terrorist incidents and natural disasters. This system would clarify and streamline federal incident management procedures, eliminating the artificial distinction between "crisis management" and "consequence management." The Department would consolidate existing federal government emergency response plans - namely the Federal Response Plan, the National Contingency Plan, the U.S. government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan, and the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan - into one genuinely all-hazard plan. In time of emergency, the Department would manage and coordinate federal entities supporting local and state emergency response efforts.
Interoperable Communications. In the aftermath of any major terrorist attack, emergency response efforts would likely involve hundreds of offices from across the government and the country. It is crucial for response personnel to have and use equipment and systems that allow them to communicate with one another. The current system has not yet supplied the emergency response community with the technology that it needs for this mission. The new Department of Homeland Security would make this a top priority.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures
The knowledge, technology, and material needed to build weapons of mass destruction are spreading inexorably. If our enemies acquire these weapons and the means to deliver them, they will use them potentially with consequences far more devastating than those we suffered on September 11.
The Department of Homeland Security would lead the federal government’s efforts in preparing for and responding to the full range of terrorist threats involving weapons of mass destruction. To do this, the Department would set national policy and establish guidelines for state and local governments. It would direct exercises and drills for federal, state, and local chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) response teams and plans. The result of this effort would be to consolidate and synchronize the disparate efforts of multiple federal agencies currently scattered across several departments. This would create a single office whose primary mission is the critical task of protecting the United States from catastrophic terrorism.
The Department would be responsible for several distinct capabilities and institutions that focus on specific elements of this mission. The Department would unify much of the federal government’s efforts to develop and implement scientific and technological countermeasures to CBRN terrorist threats. The Department would also provide direction and establish priorities for national research and development, for related tests and evaluations, and for the development and procurement of new technology and equipment to counter the CBRN threat. The Department would incorporate and focus the intellectual energy and extensive capacity of several important scientific institutions, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (currently part of the Department of Energy) and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (Department of Agriculture).
The Department would unify our defenses against human, animal, and plant diseases that could be used as terrorist weapons. The Department would sponsor outside research, development, and testing to invent new vaccines, antidotes, diagnostics, and therapies against biological and chemical warfare agents; to recognize, identify, and confirm the occurrence of an attack; and to minimize the morbidity and mortality caused by any biological or chemical agent.
The Department would unify our defenses against agricultural terrorism - the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause disease in the agricultural sector. The Department would exclude agricultural pests and diseases at the border. It would strengthen national research programs and surveillance systems to shield agriculture from natural or deliberately induced pests or disease. Working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, it would also that ensure rigorous inspection and quality assurance programs protect the food supply from farm to fork.
Science & Technology Agenda. In the war against terrorism, America’s vast science and technology base provides us with a key advantage. The Department would press this advantage with a national research and development enterprise for homeland security comparable in emphasis and scope to that which has supported the national security community for more than fifty years. This is appropriate, given the scale of the mission and the catastrophic potential of the threat. Many of the needed systems would be potentially continental in scope, and thus the technologies must scale appropriately, in terms of complexity, operation, and sustainability.
This research and development would be driven by a constant examination of the nation’s vulnerabilities, constant testing of our security systems, and a constant evaluation of the threat and its weaknesses. The emphasis within this enterprise would be on catastrophic terrorism - threats to the security of our homeland that would result in large-scale loss of life and major economic impact. It would be aimed at both evolutionary improvements to current capabilities as well as the development of revolutionary new capabilities.
The following are examples of the types of research and development projects that the Department would pursue with its scientific assets.
Preventing importation of nuclear weapons and material. The Department of Homeland Security would make defeating this threat a top priority of its research and development efforts. This nuclear denial program would develop and deploy new technologies and systems for safeguarding nuclear material stockpiles and for detecting the movement of those materials. In particular, it would focus on better detection of illicit nuclear material transport on the open seas, at U.S. ports of entry, and throughout the national transportation system.
Detecting bioterrorist attacks. The anthrax attacks of October 2001 proved that quick recognition of biological terrorism is crucial to saving lives. The Department of Homeland Security would lead efforts to develop, deploy, manage, and maintain a national system for detecting the use of biological agents within the United States. This system would consist of a national public health data surveillance system to monitor public and private databases for indications that a bioterrorist attack has occurred, as well as a sensor network to detect and report the release of bioterrorist pathogens in densely populated areas.
The technologies developed must not only make us safer, but also make our daily lives better. While protecting against the rare event, they should also enhance the commonplace. Thus, the technologies developed for homeland security should fit well within our physical and economic infrastructure, and our national habits. System performance must balance the risks associated with the threat against the impact of false alarms and impediments to our way of life.
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
The Department of Homeland Security would merge under one roof the capability to identify and assess current and future threats to the homeland, map those threats against our current vulnerabilities, inform the President, issue timely warnings, and immediately take or effect appropriate preventive and protective action.
Threat Analysis and Warning. Actionable intelligence is essential for preventing acts of terrorism. The timely and thorough analysis and dissemination of information about terrorists and their activities will improve the government’s ability to disrupt and prevent terrorist acts and to provide useful warning to the private sector and our population. Currently, the U.S. government has no institution primarily dedicated to analyzing systematically all information and intelligence on potential terrorist threats within the United States, such as the Central Intelligence Agency performs regarding terrorist threats abroad. The Department of Homeland Security, working together with enhanced capabilities in other agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation would make America safer by pulling together information and intelligence from a variety of sources.
The prevention of terrorist acts requires a proactive approach that will enhance the capability of policymakers and law enforcement personnel to preempt terrorist plots and warn appropriate sectors. The Department would fuse and analyze legally accessible information from multiple available sources pertaining to terrorist threats to the homeland to provide early warning of potential attacks. This information includes foreign intelligence, law enforcement information, and publicly available information. The Department would be a full partner and consumer of all intelligence-generating agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the FBI. By obtaining and analyzing this information, the Department would have the ability to view the dangers facing the homeland comprehensively, ensure that the President is briefed on relevant information, and take necessary protective action.
The Attorney General recently revised the guidelines governing how the FBI gathers information and conducts investigations. The new guidelines reflect the President’s commitment to preventing terrorism by allowing the FBI to intervene and investigate promptly, while also protecting American’s constitutional rights, when information suggests the possibility of terrorism. The revised guidelines empower FBI agents with new investigative authority at the early stage of preliminary inquiries, as well as the ability to search public sources for information on future terrorist threats. The FBI can now identify and track foreign terrorists by combining information obtained from lawful sources, such as foreign intelligence and commercial data services, with the information derived from FBI investigations. In addition, the revised guidelines removed a layer of "red tape" by allowing FBI field offices to approve and renew terrorism enterprise investigations rather than having to obtain approval from headquarters.
The Department of Homeland Security would complement the FBI’s enhanced emphasis on counterterrorism law enforcement by ensuring that information from the FBI is analyzed side-by-side with all other intelligence. The Department and the Bureau would ensure cooperation by instituting standard operating procedures to ensure the free and secure flow of information and exchanging personnel as appropriate.
The Department’s threat analysis and warning functions would support the President and, as he directs, other national decision-makers responsible for securing the homeland from terrorism. It would coordinate and, as appropriate, consolidate the federal government’s lines of communication with state and local public safety agencies and with the private sector, creating a coherent and efficient system for conveying actionable intelligence and other threat information. The Department would administer the Homeland Security Advisory System and be responsible for public alerts.
The Department of Homeland Security would translate analysis into action in the shortest possible time - a critical factor in preventing or mitigating terrorist attacks, particularly those involving weapons of mass destruction. Because of the central importance of this mission, the Department would build excellence in its threat analysis and warning function, not only in terms of personnel, but also in terms of technological capabilities.
This proposal fully reflects the President’s absolute commitment to safeguard our way of life, including the integrity of our democratic political system and the essential elements of our individual liberty. The Department of Homeland Security will not become a domestic intelligence agency.
Critical Infrastructure Protection. The attacks of September 11 highlighted the fact that terrorists are capable of causing enormous damage to our country by attacking our critical infrastructure - those assets, systems, and functions vital to our national security, governance, public health and safety, economy, and national morale.
The Department of Homeland Security would coordinate a national effort to secure America’s critical infrastructure. Protecting America’s critical infrastructure is the shared responsibility of federal, state, and local government, in active partnership with the private sector, which owns approximately 85 percent of our nation’s critical infrastructure. The new Department of Homeland Security will concentrate this partnership in a single government agency responsible for coordinating a comprehensive national plan for protecting our infrastructure. The Department will give state, local, and private entities one primary contact instead of many for coordinating protection activities with the federal government, including vulnerability assessments, strategic planning efforts, and exercises.
The Department would build and maintain a comprehensive assessment of our nation’s infrastructure sectors: food, water, agriculture, health systems and emergency services, energy (electrical, nuclear, gas and oil, dams), transportation (air, road, rail, ports, waterways), information and telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, transportation, chemical, defense industry, postal and shipping, and national monuments and icons. The Department would develop and harness the best modeling, simulation, and analytic tools to prioritize effort, taking as its foundation the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (currently part of the Department of Energy). The Department would direct or coordinate action to protect significant vulnerabilities, particularly targets with catastrophic potential such as nuclear power plants, chemical facilities, pipelines, and ports, and would establish policy for standardized, tiered protective measures tailored to the target and rapidly adjusted to the threat.
Our nation’s information and telecommunications systems are directly connected to many other critical infrastructure sectors, including banking and finance, energy, and transportation. The consequences of an attack on our cyber infrastructure can cascade across many sectors, causing widespread disruption of essential services, damaging our economy, and imperiling public safety. The speed, virulence, and maliciousness of cyber attacks have increased dramatically in recent years. Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security would place an especially high priority on protecting our cyber infrastructure from terrorist attack by unifying and focusing the key cyber security activities performed by the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (currently part of the Department of Commerce) and the National Infrastructure Protection Center (FBI). The Department would augment those capabilities with the response functions of the Federal Computer Incident Response Center (General Services Administration). Because our information and telecommunications sectors are increasingly interconnected, the Department would also assume the functions and assets of the National Communications System (Department of Defense), which coordinates emergency preparedness for the telecommunications sector.
Source: The White House
First web capture: Nov. 15, 2002, Index: Flight 93: Courage in the Sky
More Flight 93 Links
Somerset Co. Flight 93 Site
Flight 93 Memorial
Hearts of Steel (building a permanent memorial)
Flight 93 Photos
Todd M. Beamer Foundation
Nicole Miller Memorial Site
Mark Bingham Site
Letters to Flight 93 Heroes (write a letter to the families of Flight 93 Heroes)
Legacy of Flight 93
Wings of Hope for USA
Let's Roll America (song on soundclick.com)
National Slovak Society (matching grant for victims families)
Heroes in the Sky (tribute song by the group, Magic Wanda)
Victim's Memorial Online
Flag of Rememberance
Other Related Memorials (Yahoo)
American Memorials - Flight 93
Spirit of Flight 93 Foundation
America's Heroes from UA Flight 93
Remembering Flight 93 (Legacy.com)
World Trade Center Memorial
Flight Watch (Promoting Passenger Resistance To Airline Hijackings )
December 16, 2002, WPXI News11, Flight 93: Courage in the Sky, Let's Roll!: Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis,
The account of the final moments of the doomed flight is included in ``Let's Roll! Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage'' by Lisa Beamer. Her husband Todd is credited with helping lead the charge against the hijackers. Beamer based her account on what she heard from the cockpit recorder and conversations passengers had with friends and loved ones on the ground. Beamer writes that it appears passengers and crew members used whatever was at hand to try to overpower the hijackers -- including pots of boiling water, dishes and a food cart. She says the recordings indicate the hijackers tried to cut off oxygen inside the plane to subdue the passengers. Todd Beamer gained national attention when a cell phone operator reported that he said ``Let's roll!'' during a call on the flight. The flight ended up crashing in a rural Pennsylvania field.
Read an excerpt from "Let's Roll!: Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis:
A DAY WE'LL NEVER FORGET
The ringing of an alarm clock dragged me reluctantly from a deep sleep at 5:45 A.M. on Tuesday, September 11. My husband, Todd, rolled over and silenced the annoying noise. I roused slightly, peeking out from under the covers only long enough to notice it was still dark outside. Although I wasn't ready to get up yet, I knew the bright morning sunshine would soon be streaming through the bay window in our bedroom. Pulling the covers up over my head, I attempted to go back to sleep.
We had just returned from Rome, Italy, late afternoon the previous day, so between the jet lag and the strain of being five months pregnant, a few extra minutes of sleep seemed like a good idea. I anticipated a full day ahead of me. Besides keeping up with our two energetic boys--David, our three- and-a-half-year-old, and Drew, who was 19 months--I had numerous tasks to accomplish. The laundry had stacked up. I needed to stop by the bank and then go to the grocery store to replenish the refrigerator we had cleaned out before going away. After that I had several more errands to run. David would be starting preschool tomorrow, so I wanted to talk with him about the transition in our lives that "school" would bring. My to-do list grew longer even in my sleep as I remembered all the things I had to take care of after being away from home for a week. Vacation was over; life was back to normal. I sighed inwardly.
Todd eased out of bed, trying his best not to disturb me as he headed toward the shower. As one of the top young sales representatives of the software giant Oracle Corporation, Todd traveled a lot for business as well as for pleasure. His job often required whirlwind trips, so to him, this early- morning flight was just another day at the office--a one-day jaunt to San Francisco to meet with some high-profile clients. He'd catch the red-eye flight home that same night.
"I can do it. It's no big deal," he'd said when he informed me of his plans to travel so soon after our return from Europe. "I'll be back before you know it."
Somewhere between being asleep and awake that Tuesday morning, I heard the shower running. A short time later I vaguely sensed Todd leaning over me and kissing me good-bye, as he always did before leaving for the day. Sometimes I'd have the covers pulled up so high he'd have to kiss the top of my head. That's what he must have done that morning, because we didn't communicate verbally_ or if we did, I don't remember it.
I heard Todd's footsteps going down the hardwood back steps and smiled to myself as I imagined him trying to walk quietly. When we'd built our new home little more than a year earlier, I hadn't wanted to carpet the steps because I didn't want to vacuum them! But the price I paid for that decision was hearing the clomping of footsteps any time Todd left for one of his predawn trips.
I snuggled a little farther down, burying myself beneath the blankets. The sun would be up soon, and the boys would rise shortly after that. Better get some last- minute sleep while I can.
By 6:45 the sun was indeed shining brightly through our bedroom window, so I hopped out of bed. It was a gorgeous blue-sky morning--not a cloud to be seen and unseasonably warm for September in New Jersey. What a beautiful day! I thought. Maybe the boys and I will have some time to play outside later.
A habitual list maker, I started going over my grocery list, adding needed items and trying to get organized before the boys got up. I had just begun folding some laundry when I heard the patter of a little boy's bare feet coming down the front staircase.
"Good morning, David!" I hugged him in his pajamas. Drew waddled behind David in the telltale manner every mother of toddlers knows all too well. "Come on, Drew. Let's get that diaper changed before we have breakfast."
It was a full-tilt morning, per usual life for a family with young children.
The boys sat up at our breakfast bar, and I got them some Froot Loops and Cheerios to eat. Later, after they'd eaten and dressed, they watched Sesame Street while I went upstairs for a quick shower.
A few minutes after nine o'clock, as I was getting ready to go to the grocery store, the phone rang. I ignored it since I was about to walk out the door. But our answering machine picked up the call, and I heard the familiar voice of my friend Elaine Mumau. She sounded stressed.
"Hi, Lisa. I know Todd is traveling today . . . and I was just calling to check on him. . . . Do you have your television turned on? . . . Have you seen what's happening?"
I grabbed the phone. "Elaine, what are you talking about?"
"Isn't Todd flying today?"
"Yes, he is. Why?"
"Do you know his flight number?"
"No, I don't. Why, Elaine? What's going on?"
"Turn the TV on," Elaine instructed. "There's been a plane crash at the World Trade Center."
I turned on the television and saw the Twin Towers enveloped in a huge plume of smoke. A second plane had just smashed into one of the towers, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it ablaze.
Commentators described the scene in shocked, pensive tones. I stood in front of our television, mesmerized by the horrific sight. Before long the newscasters reported that two planes--an American Airlines flight and a United Airlines flight--were missing and might have been the ones that hit the towers. The broadcasters speculated about possible terrorist involvement in the crashes.
I had no idea what flight Todd was on; I didn't even know what airline he was flying that morning. He traveled so much that I'd long ago given up pressing him for travel itineraries. Most Oracle sales reps booked their travel on-line, so I didn't even have a travel agent to call for information. But I knew Todd was going to San Francisco. And since he often flew Continental Airlines on that route, I breathed a slight sigh of relief.
Nevertheless, as I stared in disbelief at the events unfolding live on television, my heart began pounding faster. Oh, those poor people! I thought. How can this be happening?!
Although unsure of Todd's whereabouts, I really wasn't too worried about his safety. My husband was a seasoned traveler, and over the years he'd learned how to deal with almost any situation frequent air travelers encounter--delayed flights, missed flights, canceled flights, mechanical problems, airline strikes--you name it, he'd had to work around it. By now we'd been married for more than seven years. Earlier in our marriage I'd sometimes been overly agitated when Todd was late coming home, or when I learned of an airline incident or a bad accident on the highway in an area where Todd was traveling. My mind had immediately conjured up all sorts of awful images. But Todd had always come out fine, and after a while I stopped worrying about him so much. Neither of us had any fear of flying; in fact, we often joked that the most dangerous part of our travel was the trek on the New Jersey Turnpike between our home in Cranbury, near Princeton, and the Newark airport.
Besides, Todd was a gadget nut who carried two cellular phones with him constantly--one in the car and one on his person. I nearly had to wrestle those phones out of his hands every time we went on vacation. If Todd was delayed or in any trouble, he'd call.
Still, I was uneasy. I dialed the phone number for Continental Airlines, and, amazingly, got through to a customer service representative right away. I was among the lucky ones. Many calls were being disconnected that day--partially due to the overloaded systems with so many people making calls, but also because so much of the communications system for the tristate area had been located atop the World Trade Center towers. Cellular calls fared little better than landlines for the same reasons.
The Continental representative refused to tell me whether Todd was aboard one of their planes, but he did say that their 7:00 A.M. flight had departed Newark with no problems. The second flight hadn't yet left the terminal because the Federal Aviation Administration had grounded all flights until further notice.
I knew that if Todd's flight hadn't taken off, he would have called me, so I assumed he was safely aboard the earlier flight. Okay, there's no need to worry, I assured myself as I hung up the phone. Todd's probably halfway across the country by now.
A few minutes later it occurred to me that Todd hadn't left the house until around 6:15. Even on a good traffic day, Newark International Airport is a 30-minute drive from our home_not counting delays due to the perpetual construction at the aging airport. That certainly didn't allow Todd much time if he had booked the early Continental flight. My stomach churned as I recalled that Todd sometimes flew United Airlines to San Francisco. I'd better call them, just to check, I assured myself.
Completing a phone call was becoming ever more difficult. I paced back and forth while waiting through busy signals and negotiating the phone-tree maze, hoping to reach a human being. I was disappointed. United Airlines representatives were all "helping other customers." I was soon to find out why.
Increasingly frustrated in my attempts to get any information about my husband, I was growing more anxious by the minute. Finally I called Elaine back.
Her husband, Brian, was working at home and answered the phone. I told him of my failed efforts and asked, "Can you try to find out what flight Todd is on? I just can't do it right now."
Brian must have sensed my uneasiness. "Sure, Lisa. Let me see what I can find out. I'll get right on it."
"Lisa? Elaine is going to come over."
I hung up the phone, turned away from the television set, and walked back to the laundry room, where despite my best efforts to maintain composure, I burst into tears. When David came in and saw me crying, he asked, "What's wrong, Mommy?"
"It's okay," I answered, trying to hold back the tears. "I just don't know where Daddy is right now. But don't worry. We'll find him. I'm sure he's fine; I just don't know what's going on."
David returned to his toys, and I picked up the phone again. I dialed Todd's business cell-phone number and listened to his voice as his prerecorded message played through. "You've reached Todd Beamer with the Oracle Corporation. Please leave a message."
I left a message. "Todd, I know you're fine. But when you land, please call me right away. I don't know where you are and I need to hear from you."
A few minutes later my phone rang. Hoping it was Todd on the line, I hurried out to the kitchen to answer it. "Hello!"
There was no answer. The line had gone dead. I glanced at the digital clock on our kitchen oven. It was 10:00 A.M.
I took the phone with me back to the laundry room. A few seconds later the phone rang again. I quickly picked up the receiver, but the phone had already stopped ringing. "Hello! Hello?" I nearly screamed into the phone. Disconnected again!
Todd! Where are you?
In my wildest imagination_or my worst nightmares_ I couldn't possibly have dreamed what Todd was actually experiencing at that precise moment.
Soon afterward, Elaine and her three children arrived. She and I went into our family room and sat down on the couch in front of the television while the kids headed for the playroom. Just then the network switched from New York to Washington, D.C., and scenes from the Pentagon came up on the screen. Another airliner had crashed into the side of our nation's military headquarters around 9:43 A.M., and the awful curl of thick black smoke had already risen high into the otherwise clear skies above the city.
And then the unthinkable happened. While rescue workers feverishly attempted to get people down and out of the World Trade Center, the south tower collapsed. Its steel girders, superheated by the ferocious jet-fuel fire, literally melted and crumbled in a massive, mangled heap. Less than half an hour later the north tower collapsed, releasing a horrendous cloud of smoke, ash, debris, and dust. Surreal scenes of ash- covered people running through the streets filled the television screen.
Now, like most Americans, I was reeling, attempting to comprehend the reality of what I had seen and the enormity of the destruction and loss of life. Questions I feared to ask aloud raced through my mind. Are there any survivors? Are there more attacks to come? How many more planes are out there with terrorists aboard? My heart hurt for the unknown number of victims, and my concern for my own husband mounted. I fretted inwardly. Where's Todd?
At first Elaine and I sat on the couch with our eyes and ears riveted to the television set. Though shaken by the attacks on our nation and deeply grieved over the loss of life, I remained relatively calm until the networks showed yet another downed airliner. This one had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I knew that Todd's flight would have traveled in that general direction. Cold shivers ran through my body, and a sick sensation clutched at my stomach as I gazed in horror at the crash site. Smoke still hovered in the air, and even from a distance I could see the charred ground. It was obvious the plane had been obliterated. No one could survive that sort of impact.
The newscaster's subdued voice reported that the downed flight was a United Airlines flight that had been bound for Chicago.
Chicago? Whew! Again I felt a rush of compassion for those people aboard the plane and their families, but I breathed a little easier for our family. We were off the hook again. Todd had an afternoon meeting in San Francisco; he wouldn't have had time for a layover. So surely he wouldn't have booked anything other than a direct flight.
I got up nervously and stepped behind the couch, still staring at the television, when the newscaster's voice intoned, "We have an update on the airliner that has crashed in Pennsylvania. It was not en route to Chicago as previously reported; it was actually a United flight out of Newark that was going to San Francisco."
"No!" I screamed helplessly at the television.
Without a shred of hard evidence, I knew intuitively that Todd was on that flight. Suddenly I felt as though my body weighed a million pounds; it seemed my heart might explode. I fell to my hands and knees and gasped again, "No!"
In an instant Elaine joined me on the floor, wrapping her arms around me. "It's probably not his flight, Lisa. He's probably fine. We don't know what's what. Don't worry. Todd's okay."
"No, Elaine . . . that's his plane," I managed to say through my tears.
"We don't know that. . . ."
I'd seen enough. In my heart I knew. I couldn't watch any longer. "I'm going to go upstairs now. . . . Please watch the boys for a while." Elaine assured me that she would. I made my way to my bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed, staring out the window in a near-catatonic state. I didn't move; I didn't speak. It was as though time had come to an abrupt halt, and I no longer existed. In a desperate, futile attempt to make sense of it all, my heart and mind had temporarily shut down. I was numb. I could see and hear, yet I simply continued to stare straight ahead.
Surely this can't be happening, I thought. It must just be a bad dream. Todd can't be gone! Maybe there's some mistake.
But the grim reality pinched at any idealism or hope of a miracle that I might have momentarily embraced. What now? What are we going to do? I thought of our boys, David and Drew, who loved their daddy so dearly and were now getting to the ages where they could romp and play with him as a trio of Beamer boys. Todd loved playing with our kids. I touched my bulging belly and thought of the new life I carried inside_Todd's and my third child, due in mid-January. Oh, God, how am I going to do this? I agonized inwardly. Our life was so good; we had so many plans. I needed Todd. He always made everything okay.
In that dark moment, my soul cried out to God_and he began to give me a sense of peace and a confidence that the children and I were going to be okay. But even that comfort didn't take away the wrenching pain or the awful sense of loss I felt. Nor did it answer the question that continually tugged at my heart: How can I live without Todd?
In my braver moments, I dared to ponder what Todd might have experienced aboard that plane before it had gone down. I wondered if he had been injured . . . or possibly even killed by the terrorists. I felt strongly that Todd's final thoughts and expressions would have been of his faith in God and his love for his family. And I knew in my heart, if there were any way possible, that he wouldn't have gone down without a fight.
Even before we met as college students, Todd had been the "go-to" guy, the person everyone expected to make things happen. And usually he did! Todd Beamer always came through in the clutch. That's just the sort of guy he was. . . .
Buy "Let's Roll!" at Barnes & Noble
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