Beamer's parents, Valley natives, offer their praise for Sept. 11 film
By GUY D'ASTOLFO
VINDICATOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
David Beamer said the story of United Flight 93, which he calls "the first counter-attack in the war on terrorism," deserves and needs to be told.
Beamer and his wife, Peggy, are both 1960 graduates of McKinley High School in Sebring. Their son, Todd, a passenger on Flight 93, became immortalized for uttering the words "Let's roll" before he and others rushed the cockpit.
Beamer grew up on a farm in the Homeworth area, while Peggy was raised in Sebring. After attending Ohio State University, the Beamers married and left Ohio. Todd was born in Michigan and never lived in Ohio.
Both Beamer and his wife still have extended family in the Sebring area.
Recently retired, Beamer had been chief operating officer of Legato Systems, a software company in California.
In a phone interview from Manhattan, where they are staying, Beamer praised the film and its maker, British director Paul Greengrass.
"Some say it's too soon, it brings back pain," said Beamer, "but our homeland was attacked and the war is still going on. The film serves not only as a painful reminder but a wake-up call as to who the enemy is, and that they'll stop at nothing."
Greengrass held an advance screening of "United 93" for passengers' family members April 8 in New York.
"He did an excellent job of recounting accurately the events of Sept. 11, 2001, what the passengers and crew did," Beamer said of the director. "I'm grateful and thankful that it was told in such an artful and accurate manner.
Greengrass reached out to every family member in researching the film, and in the process gained the families' full support.
"He got it right," said Beamer. "There is no political agenda. It's dramatic, but in a quality way. He doesn't fabricate what he thinks might have happened, or try to fill in the blanks."
Beamer said he met the actor who plays his son and was impressed with his work.
Viewers may not know who they are seeing, but Beamer said "family members recognize their own." The families shared information with the director that allowed him to capture the physical resemblances, including mannerisms, of the doomed passengers.
"The movie has a realistic aspect to it, in that it was a short flight, and people don't really get to know each other. Nobody is identified by name, because the passengers didn't know each others' names," Beamer said. "I mean, they didn't have passengers call Todd by his name just so that [everyone in the theater] would know that later on you'll hear him say, 'Let's roll.'"
Donating to memorial
Universal Pictures is donating 10 percent of the opening weekend's gross to the National Park Service's fund for a memorial in the field near Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 went down. Beamer, who has visited the crash site, said it's a worthy use of the money. "It's a special place, beautiful and quiet, serene and isolated," he said. "But it's also evidence of the counterattack's success. There was no further loss of life because of the remoteness. But if the hijackers would have gotten the plane to Washington, it would have been different. They wanted to kill as many of us as they could."
Beamer is encouraging people to see "United 93" because of its importance to Americans and free people everywhere.
"We know how it ends," he said. "It's not a happy ending, but it is a victorious ending. It's an inspiration to Americans to be ready for anything, and to do the right thing when the time comes."