At Wheaton College in Illinois, as students we were encouraged to serve others – whether it was through service projects, mission trips or tutoring children in Cabrini-Green. Wheaton’s expressed purpose is to promote Christ and His Kingdom. It is to educate its students and to equip them to improve society worldwide.
As a twenty something, though I volunteered and tutored a dear sweet boy who lived in the Cabrini-Green area, I did not take to heart much of what Wheaton embodied or the type of people who were and would become its graduates simply because I lacked the maturity to realize the lasting impact of what I was being taught. I was a college student, living in an insulated world. I was young, and too naive to think that anything untold or unsafe could come and touch this country and the people who reside here. Least of my thoughts was that there was a hero being trained to rise up for his nation, to pray without shame and to take charge and improve society by bringing hope to a shattered nation.
It was not until nearly two decades later, when I was living largely the life that a successful Wheaton graduate lives, that I was humbled to find that a fellow graduate of Wheaton not only lived the college’s motto, he carried it out unto to his death.
In Todd’s last moments of life, he showed the world that what he had been taught at a small college in the Midwest could and would endure. He showed selflessness. He taught the world courage by his example. He prayed with unabashed fervency and faith. He was a man that embodied and lived out Wheaton’s mission.
Though I shared the same campus with this man, I knew him much better after his heroic acts than I ever did when we were both students. I learned of his family and his faith. I heard of his heroics and the man who was behind those actions and choices.
As time passes, for some it is easy to forget those that rose up to defend others on Flight 93. For some, it can become an afterthought to recall that flight that was brought down by the strength of will of a select few. When recalling that September day, it is important to have in the forefront of our minds that we were sparred unknown disaster and further attacks on our nation’s capital by the actions of Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, Jeremy Glick and other passengers who with banded together to give their lives to save the lives of others.