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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  June 4, 2006
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Two thumbs up...and they're both mine.

I didnít go the weekend it opened. For that matter, I didnít go for several weeks thereafter. But last Sunday, I went to see "United 93."

Itís the film about the airliner that crashed into a field on 9/11.

It was the only hijacked airliner to miss its target - the U.S. Capitol Building - that day.

The reason for that was because a group of ordinary people came to understand what was happening and decided that it wasnít going to happen on their flight.

Iím not a movie critic nor will I pretend to be.

In fact, I seldom read reviews because I can generally figure out whether or not Iíll enjoy a movie.

A good story well told is my rule of thumb and, as someone once said, "Anything with a message can be handled by Western Union."

But I wasnít sure about whether to see this one.

And thatís not because of any concern over whether or not it was "too soon" to see a movie about that day.

Truth be told, I think weíve waited too long. Too many of us have forgotten what that day was all about. Too many of us have buried images like those of the men and women who had to make the decision of whether they wished to be incinerated or jump hundreds of feet to certain death.

In my perfect world, weíd re-run the images of 9/11 every week in prime time as a reminder that weíre in a worldwide war with a patient, determined, and thoroughly barbarous enemy.

No, the reason I wasnít sure I wanted to see the movie is because I was afraid that the subject might be mishandled, politicized, or turned into some mawkish grab for feelings.

After seeing the movie, I have three words for you.

Go see it.

Itís about as honest a movie as Iíve ever seen. Itís also about as relentlessly gripping a movie youíll ever see because, no matter how youíd like it to end, you already know how it will end.

Go see this movie if youíve ever wondered how, in the space of minutes, normal situations can become devastatingly confusing.

Talk to anyone you know whoís ever had a job that requires coordination, communications, clear lines of command, and timely information. Ask them what can happen when everything goes south in a big way.

Ask them how it feels to try to get a clear picture of whatís going on when information is coming at you like water out of a fire hose and a lot of that information is contradictory and, sometimes, just plain wrong.

Ask them what itís like to know that youíve just been handed a situation thatís nowhere to be found in any set of rules, regulations, or guidelines because whatís happening hasnít even been dreamed of, let alone planned for.

Ask them what itís like to know that youíre out of time, out of options, and have no idea of whether or not what youíre about to do is anywhere in the same zip code as the "right thing."

What youíll learn is that, when youíre smack in the middle of a major "fur ball," it takes time for the best, brightest, and most highly trained among us to sort things out and - even then - bad things are sure to happen.

On another level, if you want to come as close as any movie can bring you to feeling the absolute confusion and utter panic of being instantly snatched from a routine situation and then placed face to face with death, this movie will bring you to that point.

And finally, if you want to understand a little more about courage, go see this movie.

Courage is an interesting trait. In our species, thereís no standard unit. It comes in all different sizes, colors, and age groups.

Courage has nothing to do with a lack of fear. Itís better defined as knowing knee-weakening, bladder-loosening fear, and then overcoming that fear in order to do something about the situation youíre faced with.

Courage, in fact, is a group of ordinary people on an ordinary flight who do an extraordinary thing.

They knew they were likely to die, but decided that something needed to be done.

They knew they were the only ones who could do it and they did it.

"United 93."

Itís as good a movie on this subject as can likely be made.

Itís worth your time not only to remember that morning, but also to be reassured that, in appalling situations, we can sometimes be at our absolute best.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2006 by Larry Simoneaux
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