Hero: How a Warwick woman helped thwart terrorists
By Beth Quinn
The Times Herald-Record
Sure, Osama bin Laden. You had four terrorists on
Flight 93, the one that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. You had
big plans for that plane, didn't you. The White House, maybe? Or Air
But we had Linda Gronlund on that plane. Linda Gronlund
of Warwick, New York, USA. You didn't figure on her, did you? What
could a woman from Orange County, New York, USA, do to bother the
likes of you and your murderers?
I will tell you. She was among the passengers who
hatched the plot to take back the airplane. Angry and defiant, they
gathered their wits and resolved to stop you.
They were the ones who stood up to your mad men
in their final hour. "Oh, no," they said. "You will not kill anymore
people on the ground. You will not topple one more national monument.
You will die first."
And so would Linda Gronlund, along with the 44 others
on that plane.
She is my hero now.
Linda Gronlund knew she was going to die. Like several
others on that plane, she made a cell phone call from 35,000 feet,
just moments before the plane went down. She called her younger sister,
Elsa. We have been hijacked, she told her. We know about the World
Trade Center. We have voted on a plan. We will thwart this enemy to
prevent others from dying, even if we can't save ourselves.
Then she told her sister, her lifelong best friend,
where to find all her personal papers. She knew she would have no
further use for them.
Those who knew Linda Gronlund have no doubt that
she was among the ringleaders on that airplane, raising her middle
finger in defiance at the men wearing red headbands who were carrying
knives and talking of bombs.
Linda Gronlund was the kind of person who would
take no prisoners if she believed in a cause, according to her friends
and co-workers at BMW in Montvale, N.J., where she worked as an attorney.
"She would have been at the forefront of any decision
to take back that plane," said David Freilich of Warwick, a friend
of Gronlund's and a former colleague. "I have no doubt that she sacrificed
Her mother, Doris Gronlund of Sag Harbor, Long Island,
is also certain her daughter's stubborn defiance helped prevent the
flight from completing its mission. It is what she keeps telling herself,
over and over. It is what she holds onto.
Osama bin Laden, you would never have suspected
this from a woman, would you? Women in your world aren't meant for
bravery. You would surely expect them to cringe in their seats as
your terrorists did their deadly work.
Well, Mr. bin Laden, she had a surprise for you,
didn't she? Listen. Here's the woman who helped stop your crazy men.
She was a lawyer. She was also a marine chemist. She sailed and went
scuba diving, and she held a brown belt in karate.
She was a race-car driver who could take a car apart
and put it back together blindfolded. As one of her co-workers said,
"She was the best car guy we had around here."
Yet you would have had to look past the wide smile,
the sense of humor, the rosy cheeks, the Nordic blonde good looks
to see the steel in her.
She had no fear. Those who knew her have never seen
her back down from anything, let alone your miserable, puling, little
She is my hero now.
Osama bin Laden, you should know that Linda Gronlund
got on that plane with her boyfriend, Joseph DeLuca, to take a vacation.
It was her birthday the next day, her 47th. They were going to tour
the California vineyards. They were going to celebrate.
But when your terrorists took over in the cockpit,
she knew her vacation was canceled. Soon, she realized that her birthday
was canceled, too. There would be no more birthdays, ever.
But not before she and the others on that flight
said, "Screw you," to your evil lunatics. Wherever you wanted that
plane to end up - wherever you planned for more death and destruction
on the ground - they said, over our dead bodies.
We don't know how, but they stopped you. How very
brave they were. How remarkable.
Don't imagine that you killed them. They died, yes,
but they decided how and when. They saved American lives. They deserve
the Congressional Medal of Honor. Linda Gronlund and the others on
that flight deserve a statue, a black marble wall, a monument.
Osama bin Laden, when you count your enemies in
America, you must remember now to count the women, too. You must remember
that in America, we have more Linda Gronlunds.
The women of America will not cringe in an airline
seat. We will not hide in the basement. We will not be victims.
In Linda Gronlund of Warwick, New York, USA, you
have given us a role model. Do not underestimate us. Do not turn your
back on us, for we will follow her lead.
We have a new hero now.
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