Among the Heroes
Jere Longman
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Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back
Jere Longman
Perennial Press
336 pages
August 2003
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Every American knows what happened on September 11, 2001. Like the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, like the day in June that witnessed the massive Normandy invasion of France, that day in September is indelibly engraved in our minds, from that day forth evermore. Every American can recall the sight of the World Trade Centers collapsing, one after another, as well as the memory of the gaping hole in the Pentagon. But when it comes to Flight 93, little more is known, or able to be imagined. As far as that goes, some may not even remember the flight number of that United Airlines airplane, and one must not be faulted for that. However, every American should know who was on board that airplane bound for a fateful end. We know a few of their names; Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham being prevalent among them. There was the pilot, Captain Jason Dahl and his First Officer LeRoy Homer, Jr.

There were also five flight attendants and thirty-seven passengers, including the four hijackers who took over the flight after it left Newark. According to author Jere Longmanís research, fifteen of those passengers were on board after having travel plans changed at the last minute or were switched from another flight. One of those on board helped build the World Trade Center. Another was a descendant from one of the Mayflower pilgrims. Ordinary Americans, yet Americans who knew they could not allow that plane to hit any of its predestined targets that day. As most every American knows, the plane crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers discovered that a hijacking was taking place, and several of them, via cell phones, had heard of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Among the Heroes is the story of those passengers and their ordinary lives that became extraordinary. It is the story of people determined not to allow the unthinkable to occur, even though it cost them their own lives. Author Jere Longman conducted hundreds of interviews and completed months of investigation to make his tale as complete as possible under the circumstances. A reporter for the New York Times, Longman covered the story of Flight 93 from the ground at Shanksville and was determined to tell the human side of a tragic event in American history, one, that like Pearl Harbor, will be this generationís "Day of Infamy."

This is not an easy book to read. These men, women and children were our families, our friends, and our peers. They were not trained in anti-terrorist tactics; they were merely ordinary citizens traveling from here to there, with no idea of what events would unfold as their morning progressed. The author has, however, managed to capture the essence of these people in brief vignettes that serve to share a little about them to the general public without seeming intrusive or callous. Written with compassion, pride and dignity, Among the Heroes is a touching yet encouraging look at our enduring American spirit.

© 2003 by Denise M. Clark for Curled Up With a Good Book

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