The Corner

God Bless You, ‘Lucky’ Penney


It was, of course, her name that caught my attention. Over on the right column of the Corner, in a link to Greg Pollowitz over at The Feed, it leaped right out at me: I bet I would think somebody called Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney is terrific, based on the coolness of her name alone.

But it gets even better. Read the Washington Post story Greg linked to, and you will learn that she was a rookie F-16 pilot on 9/11, sent up to bring down the hijacked Flight 93 before it could land a devastating blow against thousands of people. Her plane had no ammunition, so it would basically be a suicide mission. The terrorists’ own suicide mission was bent on killing innocents; hers was to protect the innocent. It turned out that she didn’t have to go through with it, because the passengers of Flight 93 had engaged in their own self-sacrificing act of heroism.

She was one of the first female U.S. combat pilots, and went on to serve in Iraq. Today, she’s “a single mom of two girls” who “still loves to fly.”

Over the next 24 hours, and over the next 14 months, you will hear a lot from politicians about the flag and about how great America is. You will be tempted to dismiss it as self-interested twaddle, and to tune it out completely. And, when it comes to politicians, you will generally not be wrong to do so. But I ask you, even as you look skeptically at the flag-waving politicians, to remember that our country, does, after all, produce amazing people like Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney; that, despite all our terrible social flaws, Americans by and large love and admire such people, and strive to be worthy of the sacrifices they make; and that, therefore, the patriotic rhetoric — despite the low uses to which it can put — is true.

Lucky Penney is what’s right with America. I can’t do better than what Greg said: “Wow, and thank you.”

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