Despite the national memorial now emerging in Shanksville, I don’t think America has fully begun to appreciate where Flight 93 fits into the pantheon of great moments in American history. I’d argue that–for a host of reasons–it belongs somewhere in the same neighborhood as Little Round Top and Revere’s ride. It’s fitting that we mourn the World Trade Center and Pentagon dead on 9/11, but properly understood our commemorations every year should start there and build toward reverence and appreciation for the men and women of Flight 93. That field in Pennsylvania, not the hole in Manhattan, should be our enduring symbol of the day.A bunch of yuppie strangers self-organized within minutes and not only saved the Capitol or the White House, but appear, a decade later, to have historically eliminated the strategic threat posed by airline hijacking for kamikaze purposes. For about two hours, the bad guys seemed to have invented an unstoppable new weapon, with who knows what dire long term consequences. But then it proved they were stoppable by unarmed frequent flyers. And, probably consequently, there haven’t been any kamikaze hijackings in America since Flight 93.
As an old yuppie marketing researcher, I take pride in knowing that one of the heroes who rushed the cabin on Flight 93 was a marketing researcher whose boss was my boss back in 1982.