By DAVID BEAMER
April 27, 2006; Page A18
The calendar says it’s April 25, 2006. At noon, my wife, Peggy, and I are walking around Battery Park — near the Tribeca area — in New York. It is our first time. The flowers are blooming; kids are fishing; people boarding the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Kids are laughing and noisy. The sun is shining. The vendors are hawking T-shirts, pretzels and some "designer" wares. And just up the street there is a hole in the skyline and in the ground.
In the park, there is a memorial with walls standing tall. Walls filled with so many names of those who gave their all in the Atlantic in World War II. How fitting that the names are here to honor those who gave their lives to enable this fun, this laughter — on this sunny day. The sights and sounds of freedom continue.
Fast forward — it is 10:30 p.m., April 25. We have just seen a movie premiere at the fifth annual Tribeca Film Festival. A film festival that has done so much to energize and revitalize the city, its people and especially the area that has that hole in the skyline and in the ground. This year the movie that had its worldwide premiere at the festival is titled "United 93." It is about the day when the hole in the skyline of New York was made — the day when a hole was made in the side of the Pentagon near Washington,
D.C. — the day when a hole was made in a quiet mountain meadow in Pennsylvania. The day that our nation was attacked; the day when the war came home — Sept. 11, 2001. The day our son Todd boarded United 93.
Paul Greengrass and Universal set out to tell the story of United Flight 93 on that terrible day in our nation’s history. They set about the task of telling this story with a genuine intent to get it right — the actions of those on board and honor their memory. Their extensive research included reaching out to all the families who had lost loved ones on United Flight 93 as the first casualties of this war. And Paul and his team got it right.
There are those who question the timing of this project and the painful memories it evokes. Clearly, the film portrays the reality of the attack on our homeland and its terrible consequences. Often we attend movies to escape reality and fantasize a bit. In this case and at this time, it is appropriate to get a dose of reality about this war and the real enemy we face. It is not too soon for this story to be told, seen and heard. But it is too soon for us to become complacent. It is too soon for us to think of this war in only national terms. We need to be mindful that this enemy, who made those holes in our landscape and caused the deaths of some 3,000 of our fellow free people, has a vision to personally kill or convert each and every one of us. This film reminds us that this war is personal. This enemy is on a fanatical mission to take away our lives and liberty — the liberty that has been secured for us by those whose names are on those walls in Battery Park and so many other walls and stones throughout this nation. This enemy seeks to take away the free will that our Creator has endowed in us. Patrick Henry got it right some 231 years ago. Living without liberty is not living at all.
The passengers and crew of United 93 had the blessed opportunity to understand the nature of the attack and to launch a counterattack against the enemy. This was our first successful counterattack in our homeland in this new global war — World War III.
This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.
There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can’t we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let’s discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.
I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see "United 93."
Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.
May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.
–Mr. Beamer is the father of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93.