Voices filled the air in song as “God Bless America” wafted across the waterfront campus of Mercer Island Covenant Living at the Shores on the afternoon of Sept. 9.
Following a nearly hour-long emotional discussion with David Beamer — whose son, Todd, was one of the passengers who died on United Airlines Flight 93 outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11 — pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos led the singing and ended the program on an uplifting note.
David and his wife, Peggy, were guests of Asimakoupoulos for the well-attended event to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Todd, age 32, helped bring the hijacked flight down to save the lives of others as its intended target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House in Washington, DC.
“‘Let’s roll,’ a call to action at the moment. It was a call to action to do the right thing and at the right time, to launch this counterattack,” David told Asimakoupoulos in an interview from the stage.
“I’ll be reminding these young people at the high school tomorrow (Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way). I’m gonna encourage them, ‘Hey, and you, too, can make that little reminder. Whatever the circumstance, do the right thing — right now.’ We all have choices we make every day and we know what the right ones are. The call is to do them, do the right things,” he added.
In addition to their speaking appearance in Federal Way, the Beamers were scheduled to address a crowd at the 9/11 Spirit of America Memorial in Cashmere on Sept. 11.
Covenant resident Pete Baird attended the event and explained the impact of Beamer’s story: “It reminds me of where I was on that day, and I thought it was wonderful to hear the personal feelings of love and Christian commitment within their family,” said Baird, who was on a fishing trip in Alaska on 9/11.
David was in a meeting at IBM in Menlo Park, California, when the 9/11 attacks occurred and didn’t learn that Todd was on Flight 93 until later that morning. Todd and his wife, Lisa, returned from a vacation to Italy on Sept. 10, and Todd boarded the plane the following day for a business trip from Newark to San Francisco.
Todd, who sold software for Oracle, planned to return to Newark after that trip to have breakfast the next morning with Lisa and their two young boys (their daughter was born four months after his death). Todd earned the trip to Italy because he was Oracle’s top sales performer.
David discussed his and Peggy’s thoughts when they found out what happened to Flight 93: “We knew in our heart of hearts that the people on that plane had done something, and we knew, ‘Hey, Todd would not be just sitting in the back of the plane not engaged.’ Our country was blessed by having that affirmation of what these 40 free people did, because folks, it was the first successful counterattack in our homeland in this war. That one was a win.”
Todd was a Christian and a very organized man, said David, adding that Todd was an ideal son who shone in the classroom and on the athletic field and cared about those around him. He met Lisa at Wheaton College in Illinois and they began their journey together.
“He did not have, I can assure you, in his daytimer, ‘At about 10 o’clock, gonna meet God,’” David said of the 9/11 tragedy. “The biggest blessing for the Beamer clan and for Todd Morgan Beamer is although unscheduled, he was ready for the meeting.”
Todd’s faith and courage is what enables his parents to carry on and share his story. It’s a way for them to survive the worst day of their lives, David said.
The last memory David and Peggy have of Todd was two-and-a-half weeks before 9/11 at David’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary party in Potomac, Maryland.
As Todd and his family prepared to drive back to their home in New Jersey after the weekend gathering, David said, “We did what we always did, took time in the driveway, reached up, we had a big hug, said, ‘Hey, love you, Beam, be careful, see ya later.’”
The crowd at the Covenant event listened intently as David took a deep breath and continued discussing Todd and the impact he made on others’ lives.