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School named for their son touches parents

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

When Peggy Beamer learned students in Washington State school district wanted to name their new high school after her late son, she said it was "a little overwhelming".

Todd Beamer High School opened in September 2003, two years after Todd Beamer died on United Airlines flight 93 after terrorists took over the plane.

Peggy and her husband, David, travelled from their home in Florida to attend the school's first graduation ceremony on Tuesday. Earlier in the day they toured the school and met with students, staff and teachers.

Natives of Ohio, David and Peggy met in high school. They married and had three children: Melissa, Todd and Michelle. The family moved frequently because of David's career in electronics and technology.

Todd Beamer attended Wheaton College in Illinois where he met his future wife, Lisa. They had two sons and were expecting a third child when Todd was killed.

"The graduation, the first of Todd Beamer High School, was, in a word, terrific," David Beamer said Wednesday morning.

The couple met with media at the high school named after their son. Walking down the halls, the Beamers were stopped frequently by students and teachers who wanted to shake their hands and introduce themselves.

Naming the school after their son, "really touches us more than we can say," David Beamer said. He believed the students felt a close association with Todd because he was a contemporary and not a famous American from the country's distant past.

Todd Beamer's last minutes alive were recorded in a telephone call he made on the plane. For more than 10 minutes he talked with a GTE operator, prayed with her, made her promise to call his wife, and told her he and the other passengers planned to attack the hijackers.

His parents were on opposite sides of the country when they learned of their son's death. David Beamer was in California on business while Peggy was in Maryland. Since airplanes were grounded for days after the attacks, David and a colleague rented a car and drove across the country to get home.

Beamers last words - "Let's roll" - have become a part of the history of Sept. 11.

The phrase is familiar to his parents. Peggy Beamer said when she hears the phrase it reminds her of times when her son would tell his boys it was time to go.

For David Beamer, the phrase has come to mean a call to action and a battle cry. He views the passengers' actions on the flight as the war on terrorism's first counter-attack and victory.

He said some might feel the other passengers on the plane aren't recognized as much as his son, but he was certain all of them played a part in taking the plane back from the terrorists.

"We know everyone on the plane was involved. Their loved ones know that," David Beamer said.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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