Rev. Marie Buffaloe • Parish Associate for Congregational Life & Care

It was late November, cold and brisk with snow on the mountains in the Laurel Highlands. Brad and I faintly heard the deep harmony of the 40 huge wind chimes as they blew in the stiff breeze. They call it the ‘tower of voices’ at the entrance of the Flight 93 memorial in rural western Pennsylvania. It greets those who arrive with wordless voices of inspiration from the 40 passengers and crew who selflessly gave their lives to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. On that morning we were unaware that we were already at war, until teams of terrorists hijacked and killed innocent people of all ages and destroyed more than iconic buildings. They tried to destroy our hope. 

As the hijack began on Flight 93, passengers called loved ones to say goodbye and then learned of the earlier attacks. That’s when these 40 strangers became a unified army of warriors. With unprecedented courage they fought back, sacrificing their lives in order to protect the lives of those they did not know. Instead of crashing into the White House as planned, this plane’s target was averted and saved. Tragically the plane was crashed into this empty field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone. This powerful, simple memorial is the hallowed resting place for these heroes. 

With all our current national discord and divisiveness, I yearn for the commitment seen on that airplane decades ago, that sets aside personal desires for one’s self and individual rights and instead chooses something far greater as a goal. Amid the many items left as memorials on this site, one note stood out to me. The letter simply said,
“I was near the White House that morning and I believe you saved my life. I promise not to waste it.”

What are you and I doing with the one precious life we have been given?

I hope we are not wasting it, after so many have and are working courageously in battles to protect us. My hope is that we can be unified to attack an enemy and not one another.

It made me think of others who became warriors, never expecting or volunteering to go to war. They find themselves selflessly fighting back and risking their own lives for our safety. This winter those warriors are our health care workers (family, neighbors, friends) who for the last nine months have been fighting the attacks of an unrelenting virus and courageously risking their lives to keep us safe.

Like those unsuspecting passengers, those nurses, doctors and health care workers did not sign up to work tirelessly in a pandemic that only seems to worsen. Thanks for these troops!  They are heroes to all of us. We already know that it will be a difficult Christmas season and we are reminded of the gift of the Savior who comes as a light in our darkened world.

In addition to sending Christmas cards and greetings to family & friends this year, I encourage you to send mail to these troops: the many health care workers, nursing home caregivers, and medical professions who are caring for us, protecting us from the threat of a raging virus. As well as a note, let’s make a commitment to assist them in this battle. By the ways I choose to live each day, I do my part to support these fearless troops.