11 Sep

Todd Beamer

Todd Beamer is an American Hero.  On September 11th 2001, he, along with other passengers on United Flight 93, was able to deflect a second planned terrorist attack on Washington, DC.  They lost their lives doing so.

Todd is unique in that his last moments were recorded during his conversation with Lisa Jefferson, a random, but now historic, GTE mobile carrier operator who took his call.  Before Todd was an American Hero, he was merely a father, a brother, a husband, a son:  So said his father, David Beamer, when I caught up with him in late August this year.  Thirty-two year old Todd was a wonderful person to all who knew him, but did he show any early signs of heroism?  My call to his father was to find the answers to this, and other questions.  Who was Todd Beamer, what was he like as a child, and under what circumstances and conditions did he grow up?

I was understandably flustered when I placed the call.  That Mr. Beamer had agreed to chat didn’t make it any easier.  Here I was, about to speak to the father of a man who had sacrificed his life to save so many people.  Sensing my nerves (maybe from my babbling), Mr. Beamer immediately took control and made me comfortable,

“Let me talk for a while”, he said.  “You just listen, and if after a while you have questions from your notes, I’ll be glad to address them”.  Relieved, I settled down to hear Todd’s story.

Todd had a normal mid-west childhood and was a “blessed” child in Wheaton, Illinois.  His father was a successful, hardworking executive able to provide private school education for most of Todd’s school career.  His mother was a stay at home mom.  A middle child, bookmarked by two sisters, the young Beamer was an avid sportsman, a great team player and a good student.  According to David Beamer, Todd was a “laid-back guy with a calm demeanor, but he was a competitor”.   He was a leader who didn’t like losing, and he would likely strategize with his team to avoid failure at all cost.  Todd played soccer, basketball and baseball, the latter through college.  David Beamer considers his coaches excellent influences for Todd.

Todd and his dad, David (undated)

Todd grew up with both parents — his dad, and mom, Peggy; married for almost 50 years, they were part of, and still are, a faith-filled family.  Coming from generations of active Christians, Todd was himself a Sunday School teacher at his church in New Jersey.   They like to laugh (and it’s one of the things they still miss) and spend family time together.  His parents encouraged Christian principles and a strong value system.

Mr. Beamer believes it is Todd’s teachers, coaches, mentors, Youth Pastors, and other community role models who reinforced what he was being taught at home,  and contributed to the person Todd turned out to be.  Self-responsibility and consequences were emphasized.

I asked if Todd was different or special as a child.  Mr. Beamer said he showed no undue signs of heroism, with “no S on his chest”, and was a regular, normal kid.  “Todd was not a perfect son, but he was an ideal son”.  I asked for one story which captures who Todd was, and he chuckled as he recounts a great anecdote from Todd’s 5th Grade teacher.  At the start of the semester, as was her custom, she asked all the children in the class to submit their preferred seat-mate by secret ballot – every child in that classroom chose Todd!  He was wildly popular, well-liked and favored.  He lived a Christian and died a hero.  Won’t you want to sit beside Todd Beamer?

In truth, however, after our thirty minute conversation, I gleaned more of who Todd Beamer was, not so much from what David Beamer shared, but from whom I perceive David Beamer IS.  The elder Beamer struck me as a measured, thoughtful, man of integrity.  A displaced farm boy from Sebring, OH, he worked his way up to his current success as a leader in the tech industry and was proud to see Todd doing the same.  He thinks that the community, (teachers, coaches, churches) plays a major role in how children turn out and is grateful Todd had such outstanding influences in his life.  He expressed the hope that this blog encourages teachers and other role models to continue their good work, because they matter in our children’s future.

Panel S-68 of the National September 11 Memorial’s South Pool

He reiterated that he and Peggy consider it a blessing that Todd was on that flight and was able to change the course of history.  They consider it a blessing Lisa Jefferson could speak to their son in his last moments.  It was a blessing, he said, that Todd’s final words were recorded.  It was a blessing Todd knew what was going on – that terrorists had taken over the plane.  It was a blessing Todd could ask for divine mercy at the end, and it’s a blessing that Todd died to save thousands of lives.

blessing???!!!!  In spite of such a heartrending loss, this is his attitude – humble, Christian, and inspiring.  It is clear David Beamer is committed to the old-fashion American Ideals:  Hard work leading to success combined with a deep-seated faith in Christ, counting your blessings, having a strong camp of role models, and doing the best by your country.  By all accounts, and by his actions on 9/11, his only son reflected these same ideals.  Indeed, Mr. Beamer sent me an email this morning, in which he said,

“A major blessing for us on 9/11 was that Todd was Christian on  9/10 … ready to meet God that fateful morning. On this day, the 11th anniversary of the Islamic attack, Todd is having a much better day than I am.”

The Beamers’ formula for bringing up excellence was faith-based, and on September 11, 2001, as Lisa Jefferson recalls in her book, Todd declared he had no choice but to “go out on faith”. Todd Beamer manifested the faith formula to the very end and thus, with his last words, “Let’s Roll!” became a national hero.

Below are some basic stats on Todd Beamer’s early life:

DOB:  November 24, 1968

Place of Birth:  Flint, Michigan

Complications at birth: None

Birth:  Natural

Birth weight:  Normal

Breast or bottle:  No Comment

Talked when: Normal

Walked when:  Normal

Potty trained when:  N/A

Siblings:  2 sisters

Birth order:  middle child

Raised in:  Wheaton, IL

Race: White

Religion:  Christian

College:  Fresno State University, CA, and Wheaton College, IL

Grad School:  Master’s in business administration from DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Date of Death:  September 11, 2001


  1. Seymourne September 11, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    This is amazing. The fact that you got all this information about Todd is absolutely mind blowing. Most people wouldn’t want to talk about their son’s death, let alone have what they say written in a blog, but you did it. Great job

  2. Shelly September 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    This is awesome. I am crying over here.

  3. creationsbycathy September 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    All that I can say is “wow”. Thanks for reading my blog; and for sharing yours- So deeply inspirational!!

  4. luggagelady September 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Indeed, tears are streaming down face as I type. WOW! Thanks for this eloquent account of such a beautiful and inspiring family!

  5. Ray's Mom September 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Todd Beamer is the son from a family that practiced faith, love and God. They developed a bond as a strong family, developed through loyalty and strength of character. God bless all of this devoted family and their partiot son, Todd Beamer – may his story live on in history.

    • whatstheformulablog September 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      You’re so right. they’re an inspiration to all. thanks for stopping by.

  6. some stolen moments September 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. So happy it led me to this moving tribute. Please visit again some time. I will certainly check in here again.

  7. Photography Journal Blog September 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this.

    • whatstheformulablog September 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      you’re so welcome! thanks for stopping by, come back again soon.

  8. travelingmarla September 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. It’s exactly what I needed to read today.

    • whatstheformulablog September 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      I’m so glad to have helped your day. Thanks for coming by, come back soon.

      • travelingmarla September 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

        I just linked to it when replying to one of my commenters as well. It’s the kind of personal inspiration many of us need.

  9. Myster.Keepinit September 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    That was deep, thanks I needed to read that.
    – Keepinit Real Sports –

  10. Cheryl Rose September 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Nice post. It’s wonderful to know more about Todd Beamer and his family.

    I have an idea for someone you can interview: Ryan Blair. Very interesting story.

    • whatstheformulablog September 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      he is absolutely on my list — fascinating story. if you have contact info for his parents let me know and we can hook up off line to chat more. thanks so much for visiting.

  11. hyie September 13, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I’d like to say that this proves how “ordinary” people could do extraordinary things, but the fact that all students chose Todd to be their preferred seat-mate seems to indicate something intangibly special about him from early.

    Amazing work on your part as well, not only in terms of getting to the source of this information, but being able to present it in a such a poignant way that people could relate to the material with emotional intelligence.

  12. alifetraveled September 14, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Thanks for your like on my (unscheduled) post and for sharing your info about Todd. I remember signing a petition in the days that followed to declare Todd and those aboard flight 93 as national heroes.

  13. kenkrasnerhomes October 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I didn’t know much about Beamer outside of typical news broadcasts and from how he was portrayed in the documentary ‘United 93’ which is a must-see for anyone. Thanks for sharing this info about a great person.

    • whatstheformulablog October 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      You’re so welcome. They’re a great American family. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. acharlie7 October 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm #


    • whatstheformulablog October 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      so glad you stopped by. come again!

      • xPraetorius October 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

        Great tribute to a truly great American hero! I’ve adopted “Let’s Roll” as my rallying cry whenever I need one. Let’s never forget Todd Beamer. Never forget September 11. Let’s never forget those who lost their lives that awful day. Let’s roll.

      • whatstheformulablog October 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

        indeed! it’s says it all — a perfect call to duty. thanks for stopping by.

  15. Chante November 26, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Captain Phillips did an amzing job in this film and hope he continues to prosper from all his good work.

  16. Ann-Marie Ryce February 14, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    What is most instructive to me is the fact that Todd’s father is so forthright in his acceptance that his son died in order to save the lives of others. This was a major sacrifice that Todd knew he was making and he did it with pride. It could not have been possible if he did not have such a wholesome upbringing; he had a strong support system in his family and the community.

    • whatstheformulablog February 14, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      Ann-Marie, this is a brilliant analysis of the upbringing making the man a hero. Thanks for your comments.

  17. Tamar Holder February 14, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    This story shows that we still have strong Christian men out there that are willing to put all their in faith in God and trust that he will see us through the troubles. Todd Beamer is indeed a great role model for young children teaching them how to walk in faith. I’m sure when Todd made the decision to try and stop the plan from being successful, he wasn’t thinking about being a national hero but only trying to save the lives of others around him. Reading the article showed that Todd lived a normal life, even though his father has said he didn’t grow as showing signs of being a hero or special, Todd was indeed special from birth being called by the father and this could have been his calling.

  18. Teshanna A. Cox February 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Todd will truly be remembered as a true American. He was a young man of integrity and faith and it was through his heroic actions that fateful day that saved thousands of lives. People are not born heroes as we can clearly see through his father’s rendition of his life, but it was through his actions on that day that made him a hero.

  19. mariama suso February 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Todd is a hero and will always remain in our history the world still have brave and outstanding men who will do anything to make the earth a better place to leave. Brave to Todd and all the other hero’s who sacrifice their lives for us to leave in peace.

  20. Abegail Sandy February 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    He is a hero indeed, his actions were selfless and may we all learn from his example. It is refreshing to see his father talk about him with such comfort knowing that his son did the right thing.

    • whatstheformulablog February 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      It’s true, Abigail. His dad has such a noble attitude to losing a son.

  21. Allison Mc Knight February 19, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Todd was a true hero, and his traits of not losing at any cost is what gave him the courage to deflect the terrorist attack. His Christian beliefs made him fearless. He was not going to lose to terrorist, and as a Christian he knew what sacrifice entailed.

  22. Austin Smith Jr February 19, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    This story is one of sacrifice and indeed heroism. It is rare that one makes sacrifices that will affect thousands without thought and being selfless. His spirituality played a vital role in his decisions and clearly shows how trusting in God is a powerful thing . His faith and determination made him an hero. We are forever thankful and honored by your sacrifice .

  23. Lia I. Pimentel February 25, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    I absolutely love this article. It just goes to show you having strong faith in God and growing up in a house hold of God SAVES LIVES. People often forget we are the physical vessel for good and bad. God constantly uses people to get through other people. I also see that God had purpose and always held a hold on Todd. Even on is last moments he used was used to save lives. All in good faith.

  24. Monique February 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Mr. Beamer was very strong to give this interview and let the world know a little more about his son Todd. He is letting the world know that Todd wasnt a perfect child but grew up to be a hero.

    • whatstheformulablog February 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      Dear Monique, yes, Mr. Beamer was very generous with his time and his memories.

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