South Huntsville Civic Association

SHCA Articles

Independence and American Spirit
by Jeannee C. Gannuch
President, SHCA

Last Sunday, I attended the I Love America, July 4th presentation at Whitesburg Baptist Church. Aside from being thoroughly impressed with the talent and dedication of those involved, I was particularly moved by one "skit." 

A re-enactment was performed from the last moments before flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. While watching and listening to the actors, something occurred to me. We need these people. We needed them on September 11th and we need their spirit again today.

The passengers of Flight 93 each walked down the concourse of Terminal A in Newark International Airport. At Gate 17, they walked down the ramp, made a left turn, and were inside the Boeing 757. It was a 110-foot-long space that these people were meant to share for a six-hour flight.

Thomas Burnett Jr., 38, had been living in planes for six days. He had made it home at 4 p.m. Sept. 5 for dinner, left at 11 p.m. that night, then spent the weekend moving deer stands around on land he owned in Wisconsin. He planned to go back in November to hunt deer. He was seated in 4C. Just before 10am, Thomas called home for the last time. "A group of us is going to do something," "If they're going to crash the plane into the ground, we have to do something. We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something now."

Jeremy Glick, on the phone with his wife, told her the passengers were taking a vote: Should they try to take back the plane?
"Honey, you need to do it," his wife told him.
Glick contemplated what he could use for a weapon. "I have my butter knife from breakfast," he joked.

Flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw, trained never to spill hot coffee on a customer, slipped into the airplane's galley in order to fill pitchers with boiling water.

Todd Beamer was pouring out his heart to his family through Lisa Jefferson, the Verizon supervisor he'd reached on his Airfone. He was in the midst of praying the 23rd Psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . .

When he had finished talking with Ms. Jefferson, Todd Beamer put down the phone, still connected with the outside world.
"Are you guys ready? Let's roll," he said.
Honor Wainio was still on the line with her stepmother.
"I need to go," she said. "They're getting ready to break into the cockpit. I love you. Goodbye."
"Everyone's running to first class," Sandy Bradshaw told her husband. "I've got to go. Bye."
CeeCee Lyles let out a scream.
"They're doing it! They're doing it! They're doing it!" she said. 

Friends, you and I share not the small space of an airplane but the open fields, bustling cities, vast mountain ranges and sparkling beaches of the United States of America. Each of us from differing backgrounds, socio-economic situations and religious beliefs are responsible for the survival of our free nation. The question is, do we have a fraction of the courage found by the passengers of flight 93 in those last moments or will we wait until it's too late?

It seems that each week we learn of new abuses of government power, reckless spending, infringements on our constitutional rights, or self serving agendas being financed at the expense of tax- paying citizens. Our nation is both fiscally and morally on a crash course. Yes, we celebrate our independence each year with thanks to those who came before us and fought for that freedom. Does their spirit live on inside of any of us? 

The passengers of flight 93 held the courage of their convictions. For the same reason, our founding fathers put at risk everything they had ... their lives, their fortunes, and their honor. They did so in order to give birth to a free nation. They created a government which may exercise power only by the consent of its citizens. It is time for patriots of our time to stop the bleeding of the freedom we have inherited. 

I just received a phone call from a member of my family. When asked what I was doing, I gave her a synopsis of this letter to this point, as I am in the midst of writing. She replied, "I don't know what any of us can do."

Fellow Americans, the answer to this question is so simple, so tried and true that we all know in our hearts exactly what we can do. The answer is, sacrifice. The follow up question is far more difficult. Are you willing to sacrifice for the survival of our free nation? This word seems to have lost its place in America. As the beneficiaries of the patriots who are our forefathers, most of us have lived with no need to step out of our comfort zone. 

Throughout American history, women have suffered the loss of the lives of sons and husbands to the cause of freedom. Today, we celebrate Independence Day. In the past, families have sacrificed their jewelry, and various metal home goods to support war efforts in the making of munitions. Today, we celebrate Independence Day. Men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces and those on flight 93 sacrificed their own lives for the survival of freedom. Today, we celebrate Independence Day.

As our country has aged, our population has discovered that we have a choice. We can either vote for elected representatives who will support freedom as outlined in the United States Constitution, or we can vote for those who promise to give us something that will make our lives "easier." Sadly, the majority has spoken in favor of the easy road of self survival and dependence.

We, the leadership team of SHCA have been accused of being "too political." So be it. We are political to the extent that is required. At this time in our city and in our nation, much is required. We've all heard our friends, family or maybe even ourselves say, "I don't like politics." or, "politics is dirty business and I don't want anything to do with that," or even "Who cares? It's not like I can do anything about it." Yes, my friend, you can do something. You can become involved in the very important business of guiding our city, state and our nation. You can be an informed voter through research outside of the mainstream media talking points. You can become part of a strong, established organization. Whether it is SHCA, the Tea Party or a major political party, we all need your help and participation! 

Imagine how long ago our free nation would have been lost if all good men and women chose to keep their hands clean of this "dirty business" of politics. Today we are fortunate to be represented by a few men with the outstanding integrity of Congressman Brooks and Senators Orr, Sanford, and Scofield. Have you considered making the sacrifice of public service? Will you consider running for office or actively supporting the men and women of integrity who do? 
When was the last time that you placed your hand over your heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance? When was the last time you heard and felt every word that you were saying? Please, listen to yourself this July 4th and remember those words when we return to the voting polls.

What made Flight 93 remarkable was a decision that was reached somewhere over the skies of Pennsylvania. Will you also make a decision to fight for our country?

Today, celebrate the independence of our country. Tomorrow, join us in stepping forward to insure that our children may do the same.
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