By chance September 11, 2001 was the second Tuesday of the month. That was when the San Ramon City Council held one of its regular semi-monthly meetings. I wasn't writing the San Ramon Observer yet, but I attended most of the City Council meetings. I don't have notes or minutes of what was said, but I recall the Council held a minute of silence at the end of the meeting for Tom Burnett, who was a resident of San Ramon and on United Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
Burnett has been credited as the person who organized the resistance to the terrorists who took over the plane. He and several other passengers prevented the plane from reaching whatever its intended target was, believed to be the White House or the Senate.
After the whole story came out, the City Council wanted to name a portion of the I-680 Freeway in honor of Burnett, but it was already named for someone else. So they voted to name the Fostoria Bridge over I-680 the Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Memorial Park on Bollinger Canyon Road also has a plaque on the base of the flag pole dedicated to Mr. Burnett.
No one on the City Council knew Tom Burnett personally and I didn't know him personally. I did some web searching and found news stories and a short biography about him. He was an executive at Thoratec in Pleasanton, attended church in Danville, and lived in San Ramon.
The strongest impression I got from what I found wasn't that he was a hero who fought terrorists for an hour on a doomed aircraft, but that he was a good, decent man, who worked hard, took care of his family, and was liked and respected by his employees and co-workers.
Decency is a highly under-rated quality in America today. We should celebrate Tom Burnett's life not how he died. In my web searching I came across the Tom Burnett Family Foundation, which is dedicated to "educating young people to be good citizens and our nation's leaders of tomorrow."
I'm paid $25 for this blog entry. I shall send it to the Tom Burnett Family Foundation to educate young people to be good citizens. We need more people to be good citizens, take responsibility for what they do, and try to do the right thing and not the safe thing, the selfish thing, or the popular thing. That's the lesson we should learn from Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. and the heroes and victims of 9/11.