And we're back with Our American Stories and our 9-11 Memorial with another story about Flight 93. Up next, you're going to hear from Vaughn Loeck, whose sister Lauren was on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. After losing her, speaking to other family members and some of her friends, I kept hearing the same thing over and over that Lauren just made everybody feel good. She just was a positive energy and she really, truly lived life to its fullest. And I know that sounds so cliche to say, but Lauren began to just really get out and live her life. She wanted to take panel lessons at the age of 30-something and she wanted to get her scuba diving license. So she went on and got that.
This was her philosophy for life. But the interesting thing about Lauren is that it didn't stop there because it would drive her crazy if she ever heard somebody say, oh, I can't or oh, I'm upset because of this. Following the crash, there were people who were asked to go and clean up and pick up as many personal belongings as they could find and this one man found Lauren's picture ID, a driver's license.
This was before he even knew anything about Lauren. He was just out there picking up random personal belongings and he said that he picked up the picture ID and he just stopped at his tracks and just for a moment was caught and just kind of mesmerized and just really drawn to this picture. And for a moment stood there and then almost as if he had been struck with words that said, okay, you've stared long enough, now get on, you've got work to do.
He immediately snapped two and got busy. And it was not until months later when he began to hear stories of the passengers of Flight 93 and he remembered that moment where he was looking at her picture and then later learned that that was very much her personality, which was to say, okay, you've felt it, now go and do something goodbye. It was the morning of September 11th and I'm sure everybody has said this in all the interviews, what a beautiful day it was and my husband had left for work.
He was working in Midtown at the time I was in New Jersey and he even called me from his walk to his office and he said, it's the prettiest day since we've been here. And Lauren had been staying with me. Lauren had been in town and she was leaving that morning. So she was how organized she always was.
She had her suitcase by the front door ready to go. So we stood in the driveway and we said our goodbyes and the car got there to pick her up and I hugged her and I said, oh, it's always hard to see you go. And she said, well, I'll be back in October.
And I said, why? She said, why not? It was her way.
She always wanted to make you feel okay. So I hugged her and said goodbye and watched the car drive off. And I got a phone call a little bit later and it was Lauren and she said, I got here at such a good time.
I'm already here. In fact, I got on an earlier flight. So she was excited at the idea of getting home earlier. So we chatted for a little bit longer and then she said, oh, they're boarding Eric, I got to go.
I'll call you when I get there. And we talked all the time. So I knew she was going to call me right when she got there.
And I went inside and Lauren and I that weekend had done some shopping and we went to go return some of it, me and the kids. And when I went into the store, a couple of the employees were just gasping and just saying, this is not an accident. It's not an accident.
They were just saying worse like that. And can you believe it's not an accident. And that was right around that time the first plane hit. I was very shaken up because I was new to this town. I hadn't even unpacked my boxes yet at the house. And I knew my husband Phil was somewhere in Manhattan. I didn't have my boundaries yet, really. So I quickly got the children back into the car and started to go home. And I was literally shaking.
I had it on the radio, not at that time, even thinking about Lauren's flight, thinking more about Phil being in the city. And just then on the radio, the announcer was began to say, oh, what is that? What is that? Oh, my.
Oh, my. The building is collapsing. The building is gone. He couldn't even grasp his thoughts.
He was just on air, literally losing it on air. Well, that didn't help calm my nerves a bit, as you can imagine. I quickly get home. And my son got stung by me. And I had to run across the street.
And a neighbor of mine tells me about what's going on in the city. And I said, what about Lauren's flight? She said, when did she take off? Well, because I had talked to Lauren much earlier that morning, I gave her the time. She said, no, no, no.
They're way beyond. They'll land somewhere. So I come home, and I put the children in front of a car team. And the plumber upstairs says, oh, another plane went down. Another plane went down in Pennsylvania. And it was an American plane, he said.
And I knew Lauren was on United. Well, fast forward a little bit to my neighbor knocking at the door. I opened the door, and she said, are you all right? And I said, what? She said, are you all right?
United Airlines flight went down from Newark to San Francisco, went down Pennsylvania. And I knew. Lauren and I talked so much on the phone, multiple times a day. I knew that because I hadn't talked to her and heard from her yet, yes, she was gone. And from that point on, it just became very dark.
And it was unbelievably quiet. And wow, too much really to even understand. I truly still can't put my brain around it.
It's very hard to really, truly comprehend that day. After we got through the next few months, I realized that I was coming to, really coming out of it. One day, driving, I realized that I was tapping my thumb to the steering wheel to the beat of the music. And that was an unbelievable moment for me because I realized that I was tapping to the beat of the music. And I was really actually, I don't know how to put it, enjoying something.
You would almost in the beginning, if your children did something, and maybe you would laugh and then stop yourself. I don't know why. You just, you know, shouldn't be laughing.
I don't know. You didn't want to feel. You were mourning. I was mourning. But I knew I needed to move forward.
Not only in honor of Lauren, but all those who lost their lives that day. I could just hear Lauren saying, you know, they may have gotten me. Don't let them get you.
Don't let them knock you down. And that's exactly what we've done. Lauren's family has moved forward in a very positive direction. We are not going to be victims of 9-11. We are going to move forward and make attempts at turning all that evil into something good in some way.
That's what I'm trying to do. I often wonder what Lauren would think of all this. Of all this. Because they knew what was happening on the plane.
But they would have no idea how this would affect the country. I think she would be very, very proud of what we have done with this tragedy. How we have come out of it to become bigger and better and stronger. I think she would want to hear people go to this memorial and take it all in. Learn and experience all those emotions. And then walk away from it, and then know that you have all this now, and do something good with it. It is so important to remember September 11th. Not necessarily to hang on to the anger that may have stemmed from that day, but as a reminder of how to move forward.
Often you can slip into that dark place where you are just filled with that anger and the questions and the confusion. But if you can remember September 11th, the patriotism that followed, the religious differences that went aside, political differences, all that didn't seem to really matter. And I think that people really wanted to be better for our country. So I think September 11th, especially in Flight 93, the heroism that took place on that plane, what these people did for the country, it is a good reminder of how to live your life for not only yourself or your family or your community, but for the country. And thanks to Vaughn Loeck for sharing the story of her sister, and in the end herself and America, and how to process what happened and how to honor it and move forward. Great work by Madison on the piece.
And to see the memorial for yourself, please visit Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County in Pennsylvania if you're in the Pittsburgh area. And a special thanks to them for providing the audio. And what a sister, and what an inspiration, that voice in Vaughn's head from Lauren, they may have gotten me but don't let them knock you down. Turn all that evil into something good. The story of Lauren told by Sister Vaughn here on Our American Stories. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-17 19:09:16 / 2023-02-17 19:13:20 / 4