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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Tom McMillan discusses Flight 93

photo by Haley Wisniewski
Students and faculty listened to speaker Tom McMillan on Sept. 11 in the JVH Auditorium. McMillan discussed his book “Flight 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11” and provided information about Flight 93 through a slideshow presentation.

On Sept. 11 in the JVH Auditorium, Tom McMillan spoke in front of an audience of Point Park faculty and students, discussing his recently released book “Flight 93: The Story, the Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11.” 

McMillan, a Point Park alum, was compelled to write his book in order to create a complete narrative that details Flight 93’s journey and its effects. McMillan, who considers himself a “history buff,” always read about the events of Sept. 11, but was frustrated there had never been a book that had told the full story of Flight 93. 

“The Flight 93 story was out there in a thousand pieces: a book on this, a book on that, magazine articles, trial evidence,” McMillan said prior to his presentation in the JVH. “But somebody needed to pull it together. I wanted to read that book.”

McMillan, the current Vice President of Communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a former sportswriter, always dreamed of writing a book that pertained to history, but as a “sports guy,” he never believed he would get the chance.

Improbably, sports gave him that chance. Shortly after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, through the Penguins, McMillan met Pennsylvania state police officers and some of the families who were affected by Flight 93, who then invited him to the crash site. 

When McMillan went to Shanksville, Pa., he became conscious of all the information that had been compiled by the families and police officers over the span of ten years. It was then that the Penguins employee realized that this information had to be pieced together. 

“I told them at the crash site that somebody’s gotta write this,” McMillan said. “I did not mean me. But eventually, I told myself that I had to try.”

When asked about his book, he speaks passionately. While talking about his coveted project, McMillan’s eyes light up with passion and excitement. He calls the book a “labor of love,” and he never viewed the book as work. 

“This was a quest,” McMillan said. “It was never a job to me.”

His job with the Penguins is time consuming, so McMillan spent nights, weekends, and summers over a span of two years constructing his book. He started out doing a heavy amount of research and eventually he started writing and putting everything into its rightful place. 

McMillan often became frustrated with his work, as many writers do.

“There were days that I wanted to throw my laptop in a river,” McMillan said.

He told himself that nobody else is attempting to write this story, which helped motivate him to keep writing. And he wanted to inform future generations of Flight 93 and its passengers’ act of heroism, which in turn he hopes will inspire people. 

“I hope this isn’t the last book on Flight 93,” McMillan said. “I hope future generations continue to research it.” 

McMillan capped off his presentation with a Q&A session. Again, McMillan displayed his knowledge and passion. People fired off questions, and he shot back with detailed responses. 

Any profit McMillan makes from his book will be donated to the Flight 93 memorial. 

Following McMillan’s presentation, Point Park held its fourth annual 9/11 vigil in Village Park. On a chilly September night, a group of candle-holding students huddled together in front of a stage where “America the Beautiful and “Amazing Grace” were sung, poems were recited and prayers were made. 

“Younger students, like freshmen, were in kindergarten when 9/11 occurred,” said Thaddeus Covaleski, Honors Student Organization (HSO) president after the vigil at Village Park. “I think it’s important for them to realize the significance of this date.”

Many students enjoyed the short event.

“Social media goes overboard with things like 9/11,” Ryan Borso said immediately following the vigil at Village Park. “I liked the vigil because it’s an intimate social gathering.”

It’s quite clear that Point Park University shall never forget the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

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