No Greater Love / Do Not Go Gentle

No Greater Love / Do Not Go Gentle
by Dave Tutlo

No Greater Love

After the initial moments of any emergency, as time goes on and clues
begin to filter in and be assimilated, a more clear picture of what
happened usually crystalizes.  We are experiencing the same effect as
pieces of information begin to fit together throughout Sept. 12th.

On Tuesday, there were curious theories of what had happened to the
fourth jetliner, United Flight 93 that was hijacked and went down in my
home state of Pennsylvania.  Its flight path, after being altered, was on a
heading for Washington, D.C. so most theories are speculating an equal
act of destruction at a site there such as the Capital or the White House.

The demise of the aircraft is what has my attention, not its intended
target.  As in the other flights, the passengers knew they had been
hijacked, but on this flight some of the passengers were more aware of
what was going on than their doomed counterparts on the other three

One man, businessman Thomas Burnett, reportedly called his wife four
times.  The first time was subject matter to be expected, telling his wife
he loved her.  It must be tough to tell a woman you love her even as you
know it will be the last time, never to hold her again, to appreciate that
there is something better in the world to a man.  What it could be like
for a woman to hear her husband saying he loves her when she knows
it's truly goodbye, never see him again or to have him near again I could
only wonder.  When he called her the second time, she had apparently
been watching the news and told him the story of the first two jetliners'
impacts in New York.  When you hear his wife explain that he called
back a third time and actually asked her if she was sure about what she
had told him in the second phone call, you just know his mind must
have really been working.  Nobody who knows they are destined to die
that morning calls their wife back to ask questions like that unless
they've got their wits about them.  Burnett called his wife a fourth time
and told her the men had decided they were going to try to do
something about their situation.  She quotes him as saying,

"I know we're all going to die - there's three of us who are going to do
something about it."

The family of fellow passenger Jeremy Glick confirms that story as
Glick also called them first to say goodbye to his wife, and again to
confirm what others had heard from their wives.  Jeremy Glick also told
his wife the men were going to try to do something about the situation.
I'm still trying to grasp what it must have been like for Glick, telling his
wife he was going to try to overpower his captors.  Glick's 2 month old
child was with him on the flight.  What must it be like for a man, his
child in his arms, backed against the wall and facing his own inevitable
death, to get up and leave his child to make an attempt to alter their

Since we know now that the hijackers were hardly armed, men with
families and driven by survival seem a good match for their poorly armed
and outnumbered captors.  My guess is that they did manage with their
plans only to face the fact that they were free, but in an aircraft they
could not fly.  They may have known this, and had solely the noble
cause to just what happened, the downing of their own plane, choosing
to die with a shred of their own dignity under their own control than to
become a part of a much larger tragedy.  We've been taught that
"greater love hath no man that this: that he lay down his life for another."
Surely, these men rose to become the embodiment of that teaching.

Do Not Go Gentle

Burnett was travelling alone, but as his wife tells the story to the news,
a picture is shown of him and his wife with their three children.  For men
with children to accept that they will never spend another moment with
their family and choose to focus their final thoughts on saving many
more lives seems nothing short of heroic to me.

I thought it must be reassuring to realize we've a nation full of men just
like this, our new enemy stands no chance against the strength that
flows from the hearts of men, stronger than the hardest steel.  If this war
becomes a protracted violence in our landscape among our population,
I've no doubt we'll be shown the same heroism in our women as well
when dark moments test the mettle of some people's hearts.  I always
thought that if the time came, at a critical moment I could rise above
panic and at least make an attempt at a difficult task, but the
confidence I've had that I know I'd try was always cemented by the fact
that should I not prevail I have no wife or children to leave behind without
a husband or father to be there for them anymore.

My eyes kept going back to those three children in that picture.  I bet
any child like those three would think it's terrific if their Dad was a great
athlete or someone famous that they could admire in from home, but in
my mind I think those kids would only rather just have their Dad come
home.  Children don't seem at that age to know of heroes, that only
some among us are heroes.  To them, their Dad is a hero just because
he's Dad, and I think that Dads know what that feeling is as well.  These
Dads had set their minds, moved on from what to me must be the
strongest feeling in the world, and performed acts of bravery with intent
to spare others.

To make choices on how to spend one's fleeting moments of life, to
show noble intent and especially a measure of control and dignity over
death, I am reminded of Dylan Thomas' poem Do Not Go Gentle Into
That Good Night.  Thomas seems to exhort the aged, but when you
substitute the knowledge of your impending death for the old age
Thomas refers to, these lines instead seem to proclaim for all that while
they were likely of diverse backrounds, a few men raged at the dying of
their light and did not go gentle into that good night.

Dave Tutlo

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
 - Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightening they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.