With the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks fast approaching, many individual citizens, corporations and even football teams are choosing to honor the victims in a variety of ways.
The Florida State University football team adopted the slogan “Let’s Roll,” the last heard words of United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Todd M. Beamer before the plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Beamer and other passengers stormed the cockpit to thwart their hijackers’ plans to crash the plane into a prominent landmark.
The Florida State football team, which slumped to an 8-4 record last season after 14 years of 10 wins or more, chooses a new slogan every year. Last month head coach Bobby Bowden announced the team’s decision to use “Let’s Roll” as motivation for this season.
“They knew they were going to die, and instead of panicking they go in there and try to keep (the hijackers) from blowing up the White House or whatever they were trying to blow up,” Bowden said. “I consider these guys heroes. Let’s honor them.”
While the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, a charity created in Beamer’s memory, released a statement of approval, it came after Bowden’s national announcement. Florida State should have consulted the foundation – and the Beamer family – first.
Beamer and the other brave men and women on that fateful flight epitomized the American spirit. A football team using his slogan as a way to win a national championship doesn’t say a lot for unity. These situations are so far apart from one another, it is laughable to try and connect them.
Even if the slogan is old and has been used in different situations, it has a new meaning since Sept. 11. It carries such emotion and such historical impact now that it should not be used as a slogan just so the Seminoles have something to shout before they run out onto the field.
While the thought of honoring Beamer, a former athlete who attended FSU, is respectable in itself, there were many more people who died that day whose wishes should also have been considered. In most cases organizations have done a marvelous job of treating Sept. 11 respectfully, but FSU has taken a step backward in the healing process.