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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt revealed some details on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. that some may not have known.

In a series of Tweets and in one Facebook post, Holt told the story of how he owed a debt to those on United Flight 93 that stopped terrorists from continuing on to Washington targeting what some analysts and Holt believe was the U.S. Capitol Building itself where he was working for the Speaker of the House.

“Twenty years ago today, my time on this Earth was scheduled to end,” wrote Holt. “A confederacy of madmen, their minds rotted by messages of political extremism and dehumanization, had spent months planning the murder of thousands of Americans.”

Flight 93

Passengers on that flight sensed that the plane had made a U-turn from its planned course. From in-flight cell phone calls to family and friends, they learned that two planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center buildings and that others were believed to be hijacked as well including theirs.

They also learned that their flight was on a track heading straight for the nation’s Capitol only 20 flight minutes away.

With that news and weighing the risks, passengers on Flight 93 decided to rush the cockpit and try to take back the controls of the plane from the hijackers. Eventually, less than 200 miles from D.C. some of the passengers made it into the cockpit and fought with the hijackers. But, they did not regain control of the plane that nosed into the ground at full speed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

9/11
Illustration from Wikimedia Commons.

Today a monument has been erected on the site to honor those who stopped the deadly attack to save the nation’s seat of government.

And, Holt credits those Flight 93 passengers for saving his life and the lives of thousands who were going about their regular workday in the Capitol Building on September 11, 2001.

Capitol targeted?

While there have been 20 years of debate on whether the terrorists who hijacked Flight 93 were targeting the White House or the Capitol Building, there is convincing evidence that points to the Capitol Building being the target.

In an analytical piece in the Washington Post, veteran Washington journalist Bill Sternberg makes a convincing case for the Capitol Building being the most likely target.

  • Two surviving plotters have both said before and after their capture that the Capitol was the intended target.
  • A former FBI agent says that he learned from Osama bin Laden’s captured driver that bin Laden mistakenly believed that the military had shot down Flight 93. Bin Laden is reported to have said to one of his deputies, “If the Americans hadn’t shot that plane it could have hit that big dome.”
  • The Mall itself, with the Washinton Monument marking it’s position from a distance would have been an easy landmark to guide the plane straight to the west face of the Capitol Building.
  • The White House, about a block north of the mall, would have been harder to pick out at high speed among the many other bulidings around it most of which are taller.

One former DCA air traffic controller and commercial pilot took Sternberg in a flight simulator to showed him how to use the Mall as an aiming device would have made it much easier for a novice to hit the very distinct Capitol Building at the end rather than the White House embedded in a neighborhood surrounded by office buildings.

Holt’s office

Holt’s tribute Saturday seemed to fully buy the theory of the Capitol being the target. He also believes that he would not have made it out alive had the attack been from the Potomac and down the Mall into the west side of the Capitol.

The offices of the Speaker of the House had the prime view of the Mall, the Washington Monument, and some of the most impressive parts of the Capitol complex leading down to the Lincoln Memorial on the other end.

That would have given Holt a clear view of the plane as it crashed into the Capitol if that was the target and the attack would have been successful.

“If you know the geography of the Capitol, the Speaker’s office occupies prime real estate. It is dead center, just below the dome, with a breathtaking view of the nation’s capital,” wrote Holt. “The National Mall is like a runway into the Speaker’s desk, and my desk sat about 20 feet from there. It does not take much imagination to recognize what would happen if a commercial airliner hit that bullseye.”

“The morning of 9/11, I reported as usual to my job working in the U.S. Capitol, in the Office of the Speaker of the House. It was my first real job and I had started seven months before. I had been engaged to Rachel for ten days.”

U.S. Capitol
The West Front of the U.S. Capitol where the Mall ends. Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol. (provided)

Gratitude

It would have ended his life and not allowed any of the most important developments to happen later in his life like going on to marry his fiance and have the children they have today.

“Every moment I share with my wife, with our kids, every act I perform as mayor, these are things given to me by the people on Flight 93,” Holt wrote. “This morning, 20 years to the moment of their passing, I was sitting in a gym watching my son play basketball. So many sons and daughters played in front of an empty seat so that I could have that opportunity.”

Holt gave credit to the Oklahomans who were in harm’s way that day and those first responders who went to New York to help with the rescue and recovery efforts.

Then, he pointed to the sense of obligation he has to live his in gratitude to those who died that day perhaps saving his life.

“I am grateful to all those from our city who responded. And as a husband and father, I am especially grateful to the heroes of Flight 93 who gave me every moment I have had since. I hope that I have used that time well. I hope I have always recalled that each moment is a gift, bestowed by someone else’s sacrifice.”

Flight 93 deaths

Holt closed his thoughts on 9/ll with the listing of those who died on Flight 93 averting the disaster of its crashing into the Capitol Building.

Crew

Captain Jason M. Dahl
First Officer LeRoy Homer
Lorraine G. Bay
Sandy Waugh Bradshaw
Wanda Anita Green
CeeCee Ross Lyles
Deborah Jacobs Welsh

Passengers

Christian Adams
Todd M. Beamer
Alan Anthony Beaven
Mark Bingham
Deora Frances Bodley
Marion R. Britton
Thomas E. Burnett, Jr.
William Joseph Cashman
Georgine Rose Corrigan
Patricia Cushing
Joseph DeLuca
Patrick Joseph Driscoll
Edward Porter Felt
Jane C. Folger
Colleen L. Fraser
Andrew (Sonny) Garcia
Jeremy Logan Glick
Kristin Osterholm White Gould
Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas
Donald Freeman Greene
Linda Gronlund
Richard J. Guadagno
Toshiya Kuge
Hilda Marcin
Waleska Martinez
Nicole Carol Miller
Louis J. Nacke II
Donald Arthur Peterson
Jean Hoadley Peterson
Mark David Rothenberg
Christine Ann Snyder
John Talignani
Honor Elizabeth Wainio


Last Updated September 11, 2021, 11:23 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor