Thanks to the action of some very brave men, the world won’t ever know the additional destruction it could have seen on Sept. 11, 2001.
Tom Burnett, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick and Todd Beamer rightfully are forever immortalized for their role in battling a group of hijackers on United Flight 93 -- a flight that ultimately took the lives of everybody on board the plane.
After Burnett, Bingham, Glick and Beamer, all former athletes, stormed the cockpit and battled four hijackers, the plane ended up crashing into a Pennsylvania field instead of a Washington, D.C. landmark.
The plan was for the hijackers to crash the plane into the Capitol, the Pentagon or the White House, according to published reports.
The four men who prevented the attack posthumously received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2002.
All but Bingham had children or were expecting children before that fateful day, and those kids, 17 years later, are carrying on the legacies left by fathers they either barely knew or never met.
Here are some of their stories.
Mariah Mills (the biological daughter of Tom Burnett)
The attacks happened when Mills was a junior in high school.
Though Mills was adopted (and at the time, she did not know who her biological parents were), when she got home from school, she said she blurted out to her adoptive mother that “one of my birth parents had died,” according to a Cosmopolitan article.
It was just a hunch. But throughout the ordeal and the news coverage that followed, Mills said she noticed how Burnett was one of the men who helped stop the hijackers on United Flight 93 and that his story was “everywhere.”
Less than three years later, Mills requested a copy of her birth certificate, and when her adoptive mother opened it, she admitted to Mills that it was someone “kind of” famous.
“I hung up and started sobbing,” Mills said to Cosmopolitan. “I suddenly knew that my dad was the Flight 93 hero from the news.”
Indeed, her instincts on Sept. 11 were right.
Burnett and Mills’ birth mother dated in college and decided to give Mills up for adoption when she was born.
Mills got in touch with Burnett’s widow, Deena, who, with Burnett, had three other daughters -- Mills’ half-sisters.
Now in her early 30s, Mills, a few years after 9/11, flew out to San Francisco to meet her father’s widow and her half-sisters for the first time.
“It was one of the happiest days of my life,” Mills said.
Burnett's other three daughters, Halley, Anna Clare and Madison, are now in their early 20s.
Even though she never met her birth father, Mills said he is still a part of her.
“Because of my ongoing relationship with his widow and daughters, I do feel close to him,” she said.
The only child of Jeremy and Lyzbeth Glick, Emmy Glick wasn’t even 3 months old when her father died on United Flight 93.
Now a junior in high school, Glick speaks to others on how to deal with tragedy. Below is one such speech.
David, Drew and Morgan Beamer
Todd Beamer played baseball and basketball at Wheaton College, and his kids are following in his footsteps.
Todd Beamer is famous for being on a phone call and saying, “Let’s roll,” just before going after the hijackers.
David, who was 3 at the time of 9/11, starred as a quarterback at Princeton High School in New Jersey and is now a junior quarterback at Wheaton College.
Also at Wheaton is Drew, who was just 1 on 9/11. Drew is a freshman midfielder on the Wheaton College soccer team.
Morgan never met her father, because she was born four months after 9/11, but she too is following in his lead as an athlete. Morgan is a junior at Princeton High School, where she plays lacrosse.
Graham Media Group 2018