September 11 never felt real to me. I was lucky not to have been directly affected by the attacks and although I was left feeling shocked, helpless, devastated and angered, there was something about the tragedy that I could never really feel.

Someone told me tragedies can take years to sink in, and for me that happened when I watched “The Flight that Fought Back” at the Interfaith Chapel on Sunday. This documentary brought to life the brave attack by those passengers aboard Flight 93, which crashed on September 11 in a field near Shanksville, Pa. instead of in Washington D.C., saving the lives of many.

Without panicking or complaining, those passengers worked together to formulate a plan to stop the terrorists and prevent further disaster, not because they wanted to be heroes, but because they knew it was right.

Sitting among so many people that I had never even seen around campus before, I wondered what I would have done in such a situation with a group of strangers and a common goal. I have no idea.

I do know that their bravery makes me want to be a better person.

The bravery of their families, most of whom were contacted from the plane and were able to tell their children and spouses not to go down without a fight, is inspirational.

Two of the people on board the plane – Jeremy Glick and Jean Paterson – graduated from The College and the School of Nursing, respectively. I find it amazing that everyday I walk the same sidewalks and sit in the same academic halls that those two courageous individuals did.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us to live each day to its fullest, and sometimes it just takes remembering one.

Not only is their courage inspiring, but the notion that each passenger loved, and was loved so much, is beautiful.

The documentary showed how motivating that love is, and even after death, how powerful it can be.

I don’t think there was a single person watching that documentary who could not relate to one of the passengers on board. There were parents, grandparents, business-people and students, each who left a family, friends and a full life behind. The question will forever remain – why them?

On that day four years ago, thousands of people were put in the same situation, something I’m not sure I will ever be able to fathom.

But in the Interfaith Chapel, I was finally able to comprehend what so many have been struggling with for years, and I admire the bravery of those individuals who have so courageously resumed their lives, yet always kept their loved ones alive in memory.

Paret can be reached at

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