Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sara Elizabeth Low: Flight Attendant on American Airlines Flight 11

Sara Elizabeth Low
(Image from Guardian Unlimited)

Five years ago, as I was remembering 9/11 on this blog, my brother Tim posted an unexpected comment:
It's hard to believe it has been five years since 9/11. Thinking about Sara, a flight attendant I knew from Batesville, who died on Flight 11.
Astonished to learn of this so late, I responded:

Tim, I had no idea that you knew someone who died in the 9/11 attacks.

I'm sorry to hear this. Was she a close friend?
Tim replied:
I know Sara's father well and knew Sara when she was in her teens and early 20s. She was an intelligent and beautiful person who deserved better than her tragic end.
Five years had passed since 9/11, and only then did I learn that one of my own brothers knew someone from Batesville, Arkansas, a place not far from our hometown of Salem, who was killed on September 11, 2001. Sara died when she was only 28 and deserves far better tributes than those I have annually given, for I didn't know her personally, but I try to remember her memory.

As Tim mentioned, Sara was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, and that plane was only fifteen minutes into its flight when Mohamed Atta, an Al-Qaeda member who had trained as a pilot, took over the plane with the assistance of three other hijackers and flew it off course toward New York City for about thirty minutes until reaching the World Trade Center and crashing it directly into the North Tower between the 93rd and 99th floors at 8:46 a.m. in the first terrorist strike of what quickly became that day of tragic horror.

In those thirty minutes between the hijacking and the crash, though the hijackers were surely unaware, the flight attendants did not passively wait for events to develop, but immediately took action to deal with the emergency and thereby resist the hijackers. Sara Low gave her father's calling card to another flight attendant, Madeline Sweeney, who used it to make a call on an Airfone and contact Logan Airport to convey crucial information about the hijacking. Through that card, we have Sweeney's report down to the final instant of impact. Without Sara's help, that report wouldn't exist.

There's no real closure to the story of 9/11, not even with the killing of Osama bin Laden, for the memory of that terrible day will continue to come up every year on this date. The best that we can do is to carry on the struggle against Islamism and never forget those who died on that day, one of those being a young woman from Batesville, Arkansas named Sara Elizabeth Low.

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At 5:00 AM, Blogger Dymphna said...


I know a young woman who was scheduled to fly out the next day on that same flight (it was a daily routine one). So had they chosen Wednesday...

...she still has nightmares. Lost so many ppl she knew well.

Back in early Dec 2001, the Baron was employed full time (I think of it as "when we were rich) and I accompanied him on a business trip to NYC. There were still few ppl. flying so the terminals had an empty, eerie feeling.

Back then, too, my fibromyalgia hadn't set in and so we walked the boarded up periphery of Ground Zero for more than a mile, reading the posters and homemade memorials. I was tempted to take one of the faded flowers from a bouquet but it didn't feel 'right'...we came to the wrought iron fence of the historic little church there, so I used my vitamin carrier to scrape off enough of the Twin Towers' dust to fill the container -- perhaps two tablespoons or so.

The graves inside the fence were mantled with a thick cover of the dust, as though it were grey snow. Yeah, I know it was 99.99% sheetrock, etc., in that dust but it was still important to bring it home for my altar. I have a stone Buddha perched on that container, watching over some remnant of the remains.

We had to stop the walk half way thru because the crater was still smoking and whatever noxious fumes it was generating activated my usually quiescent asthma. It's no wonder there are so many disabled recovery workers. That was wicked stuff.

City Journal had a wonderful essay, perhaps a year later, ( I forget now) of NJ towns that face NYC and who lost many of their citizens on 9/11. These bedroom communities got tired of waiting for NYC to erect a memorial, so many of them did their own...that is a pilgrimage I would love to make.

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Dymphna, for the sharing of memories.

I was isolated at the time, teaching in a small university here in Korea and surrounded by anti-American students and faculty, but I did develop a few friends and even gave a talk a year later on the first anniversary of 9/11 . . . though that presentation probably contributed to the circumstances in which I lost my 'tenure'. The effects of 9/11 were far-reaching indeed.

But my problems were nothing compared to the experience of those poor people in the planes, the towers, and the Pentagon . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:04 AM, Blogger thara said...

Don't you mean terrorism?!

At 3:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

To whom are you speaking, me . . . or Dymphna?

Jeffery Hodges

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