Parents of 9/11 hero donate flat screen to Valor Home in Lorain for veterans

By Michael Sangiacomo The Plain Dealer

David and Peggy Beamer photo: Michael Sangiacomo 

David and Peggy Beamer photo: Michael Sangiacomo

LORAIN, Ohio — The parents of 9/11 hero Todd Beamer called their son a “citizen soldier, the first in the domestic war against terrorism” during a ceremony Wednesday where they donated a large screen television to be used by homeless veterans.

The flat screen will be in the Valor Home, due to open this fall in downtown Lorain. The facility will help veterans from Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville and the rest of Lorain County get back on their feet.

David and Peggy Beamer won the 60-inch TV at an auction in Akron where money was being raised  for a memorial to the victims on United Flight 93. Todd Beamer, 32, was one of the passengers on that plane who attacked terrorists that had taken over the flight on September 11, 2001. The battle caused the craft to crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It’s widely believed the terrorists intended to crash the plane into a government building in Washington, D.C.

“When I called to tell them they won the raffle, their first reaction was that they would give it to a worthy cause to help veterans,” said Sharon Deitrick, president of the Halo Foundation in Akron that raises money for a Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville. “We came up with the Valor Home.”

The home, at 221 W. 21st St., is expected to open in September and will have 30 beds to provide up to a year’s residence for homeless veterans.

Matthew Slater, director of veteran’s services for the Valor Home’s parent group, Family and Community, said a $500,000 grant helped get the building in shape.

“That covered about 65 percent of our renovation costs, and many others have stepped up to help including local VFW and American Legion posts, Lorain County Community College and Quicken Loans,” he said. “We help veterans in transition, help to get them into a home and get benefits they deserve, help them get a job. The Veteran’s Administration is right across the street, so we will be working together.”

David Beamer said he hoped the TV will give comfort to the men. And just so they don’t forget where it came from, a photo of Todd Beamer will be mounted on a nearby wall.

“Todd and the other people on board that flight did not wake up on September 11 planning to go to war,” he said. “My son was a software salesman for Oracle, but he and the others became citizen soldiers and launched the first counterattack in the war against our homeland. They all died, but prevented people on the ground from dying.”

The Beamers split their time between the Columbus suburb of Dublin and Jacksonville Beach, Florida. They just returned from a tour of the 9/11 museum in New York City.

“Todd’s wife, Lisa, loaned them the watch that Todd was wearing for the museum,” David Beamer said. “It is badly damaged and will forever show the time of the moment of the crash.”

Beamer said his son graduated from Wheaton College in Chicago and earned a master’s degree in business at DePaul University but added, “His dad is a Buckeye” — a graduate of Ohio State University.

Deitrick said a small visitor’s center now is on the windswept mountain in Shanksville where the plane went down, but a more comprehensive museum is expected to open there by September 11, 2015. Also, expected to be finished by then is the 93-foot-tall “Tower of Voices” memorial with 40 wind chimes. More than 2 million people have visited the site.

United Flight 93 left Newark, N.J., bound for San Francisco when terrorists took control. About the time the plane flew over Cleveland, the hijackers turned the plane and headed toward Washington.

While Flight 93 was in the air, other terrorists flew jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in the worst incident of domestic terrorism America has experienced. Another jet later crashed into the Pentagon. In all, more than 3,000 [sic – 2,973] people died in the attacks.

Beamer and other passengers organized and fought back as Flight 93 flew low over the Pennsylvania hills. Beamer spoke to a phone company supervisor by cell phone and said, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.” Then Beamer was heard to say to the other passengers, “Are you ready? Let’s roll” and they attacked the terrorists.

Soon, the plane smashed into the ground at 580 mph, churning up tons of earth before a shattering explosion.

Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose of Copley Township also spoke at the ceremony Wednesday. He said as July Fourth approaches, people should remember that veterans are heroes, and ordinary citizens can be heroes as well.

Ordinary citizens like the country’s Founding Fathers and the men and women on Flight 93, LaRose said.

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