Eight years ago, a young father boarded United Flight 93, waving good-bye to his two sons and lovely pregnant wife, Lisa. Shortly after the plane took off, three radical Islamic Jihadists hijacked Todd Beamer’s plane and forced the passengers to the back of the aircraft. Phone calls made to family told of the horror in New York and Washington D.C. The stewardess, the businessmen, the young girl all looked at each other. They knew they were being flown to a high-profile destination and would plunge to their deaths, killing everyone in their path.
The seamless movement by which the group passed from grasping their peril to declaring their independence is breathtaking. They wasted no time hoping for another reality, they did not lie to themselves. They accepted that, if they did not resist with the very core of their being, they and many others would perish. So they fought and saved, perhaps, thousands of lives, though they themselves did die. Todd Beamer, who never lived to hold his baby girl, breathed the Counter-Terror battle cry of 9-11 America, “Let’s Roll.”
On November 5, another Radical Jihadist, Nidal Malik Hasan, hijacked Ft. Hood Military Base and slaughtered fourteen Soldiers and an unborn baby, while wounding thirty others. Every American knew the truth the moment they heard that a man yelling “Allahu Akbar” had opened fire on fellow soldiers, the man was an Islamic Terrorist and this was 9-11.
Instead of an immediate reaction from the White House and Homeland Security, at the very least some assurance that a plan was ready to go into effect the second absolute confirmation of Jihad was obtained, the Presidential message was to “not rush to judgment.”Jake Tapper, during an exclusive interview on ABC World News Tonight finally asked the crucial question:
Asked what philosophically separates an act of violence from an act of terrorism, the president said, “I think the questions that we’re asking now and we don’t have yet complete answers to is, is this an individual who’s acting in this way or is it some larger set of actors? You know, what are the motivations? Those are all questions that I think we have to ask ourselves. Until we have these answers buttoned down, I’d rather not comment on it.”
He later confused the issue by stating, contrary to evidence sitting before him during the Ft. Hood Memoral Service,
“No religion justifies this.”
Today the President saunters off to Asia, leaving nothing of the Ft. Hood Terrorist Attack except national confusion and the guarantee of more violence.
President Obama sat for one moment on that plane with Todd Beamer, poised for an instant in that balance of crisis that reveals our ability to leave the comfort of the back of the plane as a prisoner, and surge to the cockpit as a warrior. The President had, like Todd, a split second to choose between nurturing an illusion and decisively reacting to reality. Todd Beamer left the President and their shared moment of truth. He rushed forward and gave America the example and motto that lifted us for eight years of War on Terror.
The President watched Todd go. He could have joined the huddle of American heroes and calmly acknowledged the truth of our danger. He could have articulated a real plan that would land a victory for those who looked to him for leadership. But, acting in the “Todd Moment” means passionately risking everything for that which is greater than self. Barack Obama hesitated a moment, then another, and finally let Todd roll alone. He stretched back in his seat in the descending plane… and hoped.