Sunday, March 2, 2014
It was last weekend during the final days of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi,Russia. I had the television on, but I was not really watching a specific Olympic event. I noticed I was right in the middle of a short documentary. It was about a Russian hockey team whose name is in my title. How had I never heard that their entire team-minus a couple players who were injured-died in an airplane crash in 2011 on their way to a game? Is it because I was too busy to notice another tragedy? Is it because it was half a world away? Excuses. One of the players died a hero-an unknown hero to many. He had been giving large sums of money to a fund that aided cancer patients. One young lady who suffered from leukemia benefited from his generosity. She had a life-saving surgery that cost $30,000-money her family did not have. She is now a healthy teenager. Please read more about him-perhaps the video is on NBC's site. As I watched this story unfold before me I was drawn to comparisons of United Flight 93-and the original pull of this story-only to call it a story is wrong as forty passengers and crew died on September 11, 2001. 40 people set out that beautiful late summer day-some for business, some to start a new life, or to begin another year of college in the case of Deora Bodley-the youngest passenger on board United 93. They all died that day, but not before they gathered and made the decision to attempt to overtake the cockpit where four hijackers had taken over their plane. Their actions have inspired me to take over 1,000 students there, to raise funds, to visit and volunteer at the site numerous times. As my retirement from full-time middle school teaching nears I look forward to more time spent at the Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Later this spring ground will break on the Visitor Center slated to open in 2015. On April 25th and 26th volunteers will gather again to plant thousands of saplings at the site.