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Popular Topics in Literature
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Congratulations
 
Remembering 9/11/2001 Heroes Mark Bingham and Father Mychal Judge
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/07/11
Last updated on: 09/09/11
 
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On the tenth anniversary of the terror attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, the nation pauses to remember all who lost their lives in the attacks on New York's twin towers and on the Pentagon, and in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Among the heroes of 9/11 were two gay men, Father Mychal Judge and Mark Bingham.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Judge, chaplain to the Fire Department of New York City, rushed with some off-duty fireman to the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which had just been hit by the first hijacked plane, American Flight 11.

Soon after, Judge became the first recorded fatality of the attack. (He was not the first person to die in the attack--that distinction probably belongs to flight attendants on American Flight 11--but his was the first officially recorded death.) He was struck by falling debris in the tower.

Judge, a gay man who ministered to AIDS sufferers and served as chaplain to Dignity, an organization of gay Roman Catholics, exemplified a Catholic ideal of service. As biographer Michael Ford has noted, Judge's "ministry . . . helped many gay people, alienated from the church, reconnect with their faith. Father Mychal was a living symbol of the church as it ought to be."

Judge is the subject of a documentary film, Saint of 9/11 (2006, directed by Glenn Holsten). Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, it is a touching portrait of Father Judge, capturing the man not only in his enormous sense of duty and service to others but also in his gifts as a witty story-teller with an irrepressible sense of humor and an abiding belief in hope.

Mark Bingham, an openly gay businessman and avid rugby player, was the last passenger to board United Flight 93 in Newark, New Jersey. Soon after the doomed flight began its journey to San Francisco, it was hijacked by terrorists who redirected it toward Washington, D. C., where they apparently planned to crash it into either the U. S. Capitol or the White House.

Flight 93 passengers learned from cell phone conversations that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had already been attacked. Bingham and three other athletic young men sitting in the rear of the plane--Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick--are believed to have stormed the cockpit and forced the plane to crash into an empty field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Although all the passengers on the plane were killed, the actions of Bingham, Beamer, Burnett, and Glick undoubtedly saved the lives of many more by averting an attack on a Washington, D. C. landmark.

The heroism of the brave passengers of Flight 93 have been celebrated in a number of films and television reenactments, as well as a memorial at the crash site.

Bingham has been memorialized in a number of ways, including the establishment of the Mark Bingham Leadership Fund at the University of California, Berkeley and the naming of a San Francisco gym in his honor. Most fittingly, given his passion for rugby, the International Gay Rugby Association has named its biennial tournament the Bingham Cup.

Melissa Etheridge's "Tuesday Morning" is a tribute to Bingham that specifically contrasts his heroism with the denial of equal rights that he experienced as a gay man.

Among other glbtq victims of the terrorist attack are the following: Carol Flyzik, passenger on Flight 11; David Charlebois, co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon; Graham Berkeley, passenger on United Flight 175, the second hijacked plane that crashed into the World Trade Center; Ronald Gamboa and Dan Broadhorst, a gay couple who were traveling with their adopted son, David, on Flight 175; James Joe Ferguson, a passenger on Flight 77; Jeffrey Collman, a flight attendant on Flight 11; and Waleska Martinez, a passenger on Flight 93.

The following glbtq victims of 9/11 worked at or near the World Trade Center: Pamela J. Boyce, John Keohane, Eddie Ognibene, Eugene Clark, Wesley Mercer, Luke A. Dudek, Michael Lepore, William Anthony Karnes, Seamus O'Neal, Catherine Smith, Patricia McAneny, and Renee Barrett.

Sheila Hein worked at the Pentagon.

It is believed that several of the police officers, fire fighters, and other rescue personnel who died on 9/11 were gay or lesbian, but have not been identified as such.

See the website, September 11, 2001: Gay Victims & Heroes.

 
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