On 9/11 Heather Penney was 26 years old. She was a pilot with the 121st Fighter Squadron in Washington DC. She was ordered to intercept and down United Flight 93 before it could reach DC and crash into a target.
Due to the urgency of the mission, there was no time to arm the plane. So she took off with her mission being to ram her plane into a jumbo jet, almost certainly killing herself also. It didn’t prove necessary as the brave passengers fought back against the hijackers and the plane crashed.
Penney was asked why she was willing to fly a kamikaze mission. Her reply is worth reflecting on:
Why? Because there are things in this world that are more important than ourselves. Freedom. The Constitution of the United States. Our way of life. Mom, baseball, apple pie; these things and so many more that make us uniquely American. We belong to something greater than ourselves. As complex and diverse and discordant as it is, this thing, this idea called America, binds us together in citizenship and community and brotherhood.
Great words worth reflecting on.