Dedication to Sept. 11 hero , Todd Beamer

By Julie Fann
Star Staff

Save for the sound of distant thunder, Wednesday morning was almost perfect; nature was eternal in its beauty, as members of the Emmanuel School of Religion community, and David and Peggy Beamer gathered outside Emmanuel Village for a special ceremony. Emmanuel dedicated a cottage and maple tree to the memory of the Beamers' son, Todd, who was killed on Flight 93 during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now an American hero, Todd Beamer coined the phrase "Let's roll!" often quoted by President Bush in reference to the war on terrorism.
   The Beamer family have been long-time friends of Emmanuel School of Religion. Long before Sept. 11 they helped the school build a cottage in the Emmanuel Village. When the school learned that Todd Beamer had been on Flight 93, it was suggested they plant a tree in his memory, rename the cottage the Todd Beamer cottage, and have a stone placed by the tree.
   "This gives us an opportunity to identify with a family that have lost so much but are using that loss in a way to work redemptively both for the good of the nation and the good of their Christian faith," said Robert Wetzel, President of Emmanuel, prior to the dedication.
   As David Beamer addressed the audience at the ceremony, he challenged them to consider the spiritual value in a single spring day. "Todd's last words were, 'Are you ready guys? Let's roll!' We've heard the last two more than the former, but those are the words that are really life's most important question. Are you ready? We know it's a great morning, but we don't know what's going to happen today. Are you ready to meet your maker?" he said.
   Prior to the ceremony, the Milligan College Concert Choir, dressed in long black gowns and tuxedoes, sang "America the Beautiful" and another spiritual hymn. Afterward, Dan Lawson, Director of Development at the school, welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Beamer. "We come here today to celebrate the joy that your son, Todd Morgan Beamer, brought to your lives. We are also here to establish a symbol to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice of this young, Christian hero," Lawson said. Lawson also thanked the Beamers for their investment in Emmanuel, which has "placed Christian workers in 34 nations of the world."
   Emmanuel student Cory Thomas, an Indiana native who will be living in the "Todd Beamer" cottage, also thanked the Beamers and the school for their support. "From personal experience, I know that to live in a comparable apartment less than a mile down the road would cost us poor students nearly twice what we pay here," he said. Thomas said that the community spirit that exists at the Emmanuel cottages is a microcosm of what has happened to America since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
   David Beamer said that he and his wife continue to be filled with sorrow over their son's death and that the hardest part about not having him around is that his kids won't have him with them. "Because we know he was a great father. Granted, he left a legacy; he left an example. That's fantastic, but we of course wish he wouldn't have left quite so soon. So our hearts are filled with sorrow," he said.
   However, Beamer explained that he and his family have found joy in the midst of such terrible circumstances, especially through the strength of their daughter-in-law, Todd's wife, Lisa Beamer. Lisa was unable to attend the ceremony due to prior commitments. Beamer addressed her Christian character.
   "What a source of joy coming out of this event, that our country can see how things can be, and how people can go on if you have that source of strength in God Almighty. Because we know for sure that without that faith-based system, without the power of almighty God holding us up, we wouldn't be standing here today, good people, having anything to say," he said.
   Wetzel said the reason behind the school planting a maple tree came from a special memory Todd's parents have of him as a child. As a boy, Todd found a maple seed and planted it near the family home. To the Beamers' surprise, it grew into a tree and had to be transplanted.