Last night I saw on the Discovery Channel the premiere of The Flight that Fought Back, the new documentary about the heroes of United Flight 93, the "average" citizens who won the first battle in the war on terror, showing that it only took a group of Americans who didn't know each other about 90 minutes to adjust to the tactics of the enemy and defeat them. It was an amazing documentary. There was only one slight misstep towards the end when the flight-school instructor of the terrorist who acted as the pilot said something which seemed to humanize him, saying that he preferred to look at him as the nice guy in his flight class, not as a mass-murderer. Other than that, it was a straightforward pro-American documentary that didn't humanize or excuse the terrorists in any way. Real recordings of phone calls and flight recordings were used and where details couldn't be filled in a jerky, hand-held camera style and some quick editing were used to convey the panic and adrenaline of the moment, a technique which drew you deeply into the story, while not taking any final stand on matters that can't be finally decided, like who actually struck the first blow against the terrorists.
Like Sheila O'Malley I already knew the story so well going into the documentary that I knew all the names of the people like they were all old friends of mine. Having seen The Flight that Fought Back I feel even closer to these heroes and their families. Watching this show on the anniversary was the perfect September 11th memorial, a tribute to those who won the first battle in this long war.