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One can make the case that the first battle in the current War on Terror didn't begin on some desolate strip of land in Afghanistan but, rather, a couple of thousand miles above Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
Flight 93 was headed towards San Francisco that morning when a group of radical Islamic extremists took control of the plane. They killed the pilots, moved the passengers towards the back of the plane, and told everyone they were heading back to their departure location, Newark, to begin negotiations. But, as word began to get back to passengers, who were using cell phones to communicate with their loved ones, that two planes had been crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and another into the Pentagon, it became apparent that their destination was not Newark. This was an organized attack on the country, and the men who had taken them hostage were a part of it all.
That's when they took matters into their own hands.
What happened next will never be fully known. The only evidence is the voice recordings on the plane's black box, which reveals only that a brutal fight took place for control of the plane, a fight that ended with Flight 93 crashing into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Had those passengers not acted, Flight 93 may have been crashed into the Capitol Building or the White House, the suspected terrorists' targets.
Those brave men and women have rightfully become heroes. We know their names. They changed the way passengers act on a plane. When the Shoe Bomber was bumbling around trying to ignite his explosive device, he was jumped by numerous passengers not ready to let someone else dictate how and where they would die. No doubt, many of those who reacted that day remembered what passengers on Flight 93 had done under graver circumstances.
That's why the inexcusable foot dragging that has taken place in erecting a memorial for the passengers on Flight 93 in the field where they met their demise is so disappointing as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.
As of now, the project stands $10 million short of the funds needed to complete the site. While a partially finished memorial will be dedicated this weekend, the entire project is not expected to be completed until, at the earliest, 2014. That's assuming the money comes in.
The fact that, 10 years after those passengers literally sacrificed themselves in an effort to fight back, the first Americans to stand up to the terrorists and say “No,” that their memorial remains an unfinished project is disgraceful. With so much money wasted per day by the government, with so many useless programs allowed to continue on as nothing more than a bottomless pit into which taxpayer dollars can be dumped, it is unconscionable that these American heroes would have to wait longer than 10 years to have their memorial be a permanent part of our national landscape.
Someone dropped the ball, and it is a shame that, on a day when we will tell Flight 93's story again and again as a reminder of American courage in the face of adversity, this country couldn't even make their memorial a priority.
And while it isn't nearly as embarrassing as the Pennsylvania Memorial, the fact that the planned 9/11 Museum in lower Manhattan, at Ground Zero, is more than a year away from completion, is also disappointing. Granted, the effort would seem to be a monumental undertaking as the expansive museum will serve to guide future generations through the events of the day, the issues that led up to the attack, and what happened to the country and the world afterwards. And, perhaps most importantly, the Memorial at the Ground Zero site has been finished and will be open to the public.
Still, considering it has been 10 years, it would have been nice for all the projects to be completed at once.