9/11 hero Todd Beamer honored by Wheaton Academy

September 13, 2011 2:48:43 PM PDT
A memorial to an American hero was dedicated Tuesday in the western suburbs.

Todd Beamer died 10 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, when Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

Before moving to California, Todd Beamer attended Wheaton Academy in West Chicago from 1983 to 1985. Over the years, he and his family kept in close contact with the school.

Tuesday, David and Peggy Beamer returned to dedicate a plaque and give the students some life lessons using their son's famous last words.

Under a crisp blue sky, students at Wheaton Academy spent their sixth period class outside to remember one of their most heroic alumni, Todd Beamer, with the help of his parents. A special plaque was unveiled in their son's honor.

"Up until now I have held it together pretty good. This is really special," said David Beamer, Todd Beamer's father.

Beamer was aboard United Flight 93. The plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after he and other passengers apparently fought the hijackers for control. Using a phone on the back of plane seat, Beamer reached GTE supervisor Lisa Jefferson and told her about the plan.

Jefferson says Beamer's last words were "Are you guy's ready? Let's roll."

"Whenever you think of 'Let's roll,' make sure it's your call to action to do the right thing, whatever it happens to be," said David Beamer.

David Beamer used his son's famous "Let's roll" phrase as lesson to Wheaton Academy students.

"It inspires us to be honorable, to make good decisions, to make the right choice when the time comes," said student Kenny Hass.

"It's great the rest of the world can look up to him and see his influence and the influence Wheaton Academy has on people like him," said student Renatta Gorski.

"Todd made a choice to encourage young people that they can make a choice everyday," said Dr. Gene Frost, Wheaton Academy's head of school. "That is Todd's story."

Todd Beamer's father says his son was no different than any of the students at Wheaton Academy. Beamer says his son just did the right thing.

"He was a great guy. He was a regular guy, a great son, husband, father, uncle, all those things, and I hope the kids here today realize he is just one of us," said David Beamer.

While they call Todd Beamer just a regular guy, the head of Wheaton Academy says Beamer's heroic actions were not out of character for a student he remembers as being outstanding.

Beamer's plaque is located on the grounds of Wheaton Academy next to a plaque of a former student who was killed in Afghanistan.

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