I am absolutely certain that all those of us who are old enough able to remember the first 9/11 were deeply affected by it. Of course there was the shock and horror and mourning of the many we lost that awful day. The day after 9/11, for the first time, I truly realized what it means to be an American and I am again absolutely certain I am not alone in that. Not only did I now know what it meant to be an American, I felt a kinship with all other Americans as I never have. Again I am certain I was not alone in this. A very big part of that was the sense of pride I had in the heroism of both the first responders in New York and Washington but also of the brave group of passengers and crew of Flight 93, the one flight that did not reach its intended target because the passengers revolted and came very near to taking back the plane.
But somehow over time, and not even that much time it seemed, we lost that sense of national unity and purpose. Americans are again facing crisis but of a different sort. A sort that does not help national unity.
I wanted to bring that wonderful sense of national identity and common purpose. Although an investigative reporter living in the Seattle area, about as far from New York, Washington or Pennsylvania as it is possible to be in the lower 48, I found the best transcripts of the 30 calls placed from Flight 93 on 9/11, the flight control chatter, and the extensive broadcasts from the cockpit, (made possible by the fact that Flight 93 pilot, as the hijackers were overtaking the plane pushed a button that caused everything said in and near the cockpit particularly when the passengers began ramming the food cart into the cockpit door, probably eventually breaching the door) to be broadcast to air traffic control. In 2005 I completed a screenplay using these sources and speculated as how the heroic passengers and crew came together as one.
I entitled the screenplay, “Remember Flight 93: A True Story of American Courage.” In 2010 I adapted the screenplay into a stage play. As most of the action occurs on the plane, it seemed natural that a stage play could portray the story of Flight 93 to a more intimate audience.
I did not feel as though the Heroes and Heroines of Flight 93 have been properly honored. I have asked both my Congressman in Washington State and Rep. Mike Coffman, to do what they could to see that these heroes and heroines receive posthumous Congressional Medals of Honor. But besides that most Americans do not know the story of what really happened on Flight 93. Most only know the name of one hero, and one stirring line.
They are unaware of Thomas Burnett, Jr., who placed four calls to his wife Deena in California. It was during the second of those calls that Deena informed Thomas that hijacked planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, alerting the passengers to the hijacker’s true intentions. We don’t know the name of hero Jeremy Glick. Jeremy who asked his wife Lyzbeth how she thought he ought to vote in the vote the passengers took about trying to take the plane back. We don’t know the names of Mark Bingham, Mark Rothenberg, Jason Dahl, Cee-Cee Ross Lyles, Honor Elizabeth Waino and many others.
The play makes it’s World Premiere at the Arvada Festival Playhouse on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Sunday September 11th, 2011, with performances at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 11 p.m. The Arvada Festival Playhouse is at 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, Colorado. For tickets please call 303-868-3739.