Update, 9-13-21

At the edge of an outdoor ceremony Saturday in Ludlow, Massachusetts, members of the fire department had parked their ladder truck, with the words “Let’s Roll” on its bucket.

In the Sunday Republican, Jim Kinney explains:

It’s a reference to the words of Todd Beamer, who, with his fellow passengers, took back Flight 93 and, although they died, were able to direct the flight away from Washington, D.C., crashing in an open field in Pennsylvania.

Speakers referenced those words in Ludlow, saying it’s not just people in uniform who can make a difference.

Subscribers to the Republican or masslive.com can read Kinney’s anniversary report HERE. It began on page 1 Sunday, headlined “‘It doesn’t feel like 20 years’: Western Mass marks 9/11 anniversary with sorrow, calls for unity.”

According to official sources, Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer said to others on the plane preparing to heroically move against hijackers, “Are you guys ready? Okay, let’s roll.” This at the end of a 13-minute telephone conversation with a Verizon customer-service operator.

The problem is, there are good reasons to doubt that Beamer had that conversation.

In their book 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation, authors David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth devote two short chapters to investigators’ consensus that accounts of it are false. They are titled “The Assumption That the Todd Beamer ‘Let’s Roll’ Call from United 93 Was Authentic, Part 1” and “The Assumption That the Todd Beamer ‘Let’s Roll’ Call from United 93 Was Authentic Was Authentic, Part 2.”

(Four earlier chapters are titled “The Claim That Four 9/11 Flights Were Hijacked,” “The Claim That United Flight 93 Crashed in Pennsylvania,” “The Claim That Hijackers Were Responsible for Changes to 9/11 Flight Transponders,” and “The Claim That No Information Could Be Obtained from the Black Boxes of Any of the Four 9/11 Planes.”)

I apologize for not summarizing them. Click HERE to see if Edward Curtin’s review of 9/11 Unmaked does so.

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At least two articles in Sunday’s mainstream newspaper coverage commemorating the 20th anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attacks are notable for lacking falsehoods routinely repeated elsewhere:

A Copy Desk Editor’s Tale: Twenty years ago Robert Genest was an assistant news editor on the Wall Street Journal’s copy desk. But when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, he was in his Brooklyn apartment and unable to get to his desk at the newspaper near the World Trade Center.

He details working at home on a company computer connected to the newspaper’s servers, overcoming communication and transportation hurdles and, two days later, reaching a New Jersey office the Journal had thrown together where the emotional toll made it “incredibly difficult to work.”

Until recently memories of what Genest lived and worked through since then were foggy, the days and years “somewhat lost.”Why is his column headed “9/11 changed everything about my life”? A few years later he quit and moved back to Western Massachusetts, where he is now manager of reader engagement and editor of opinion and commentary at the Springfield Republican.

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Other Museums and Memorials Needed: “Memory is idiosyncratic,” Laila Lalami writes in a Sunday New York Times piece titled “What We Forget on 9/11.” Not only for individuals, like Genest (whom she probably has never met), but for societies.

The story America told about itself after Sept. 11,” she writes, “was one of heroism and resilience in the aftermath of a brutal attack; the invasion of other countries, and the interruption of their political destinies, had no place in it. Even now … the story hasn’t changed. There are no ceremonies to honor the foreigners who died in U.S. wars, no memorials to victims of torture, no museums to house artifacts from hollowed-out buildings or bombed funeral processions, no exhibits on the lessons that ought to be drawn from such spectacular failures.”

Lalami, a novelist and essayist, is a Muslim.

— Mark Channing Miller

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