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CNN Larry King Live

Lisa Beamer Discusses Her New Book

Aired August 23, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Lisa Beamer. It's been almost a year since she lost her husband, Todd, last September 11. He uttered those now famous words, "Let's roll," before leading passengers on United Flight 93 in an attack on their hijackers.
That plane, apparently headed back to Washington, D.C., crashed in a Pennsylvania field, killing everybody on board.

Todd Beamer, a father of three, never got to see his baby girl, born four months after September 11.

How has her faith in God gotten her through this past year? And how will she spend this September 11?

Lisa Beamer joins us with intimate and emotional memories of an American hero.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening, welcome to this Friday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. A very familiar lady joins us. She's been on this show many times, but it's the first time we're together in person, touching.

Lisa Beamer, and she's finally written the book we've all been waiting for, "Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage." It's published by Tyndale, written with Ken Abraham.

Lisa, let's before we get into all the current things and everything, why did you write this?

BEAMER: I had a lot of people come to me at the end of the fall and sort of suggest writing a book. And it was never anything I thought I would ever do in my life. And I kind of laughed in the beginning saying, "There's not a book here; there's like three pages here," you know.

KING: He went up, tragedy happened, he...

BEAMER: Yes. And, you know, as I started to think over it a little bit more and realized that the picture of Todd that most people had was the half-hour of September 11 that they knew him as this hero and things. And I just wanted to paint a more complete picture of who he was, and hopefully show why it is that he was able to do what he did that day and what's happened in our family since then.

And, you now, it's something I look forward to sharing with my children some day, and say "Here it is, in black and white..."

KING: They'll have this forever.

BEAMER: Yes, they will.

KING: And a tremendous first printing, everyone -- Tyndale, is that a new publisher?

BEAMER: No, they've been around for, I think, about 40 years in Chicago, yes.

KING: Really. But you didn't pick one of the huge publishers, though?

BEAMER: No, I had a number of publishers to work with and Tyndale has a good reputation. I knew their family a little bit, and I thought that they would be a good...

KING: And Ken Abraham, who wrote it with you, you know him?

BEAMER: I didn't know him before this book, but I've gotten to now him very well.

KING: And he has captured your language well?

BEAMER: He's done great.

KING: Not easy to do.

BEAMER: I did a lot of editing, and he did a lot of great writing, and we worked together well, I think.

KING: All right, let's get up to speed on current things. How is the little baby, how is Morgan Kay, who we saw on this show, like what, day after she was born?

BEAMER: Just about a month, yes. Yes, we saw her the day after that.

KING: She was born January 9.

BEAMER: She was on the show in February, crying a little bit.

KING: How's she doing?

BEAMER: She's doing great. She's seven months old now, and she's sitting up and she's captivated by her brothers. And they entertain her a lot, and she's a really bright spot for us.

KING: And the brothers are what, four and two, right?


KING: And it is said that she has her father's hair?

BEAMER: She does. She came out with this big head of black hair, which the boys were very blond when they were born, and she's kept that dark hair. And she just has a very peaceful spirit about her, very similar to Todd's.

KING: And you're glad it was a girl?

BEAMER: Very glad.

KING: You've had two boys.

BEAMER: Yes. It's fun to dress her.

KING: Girls are different, are they not?

BEAMER: So far, yes. She's different, she's a lot more laid back and a lot more just willing to sort of take in the world. And of course it's fun dressing her.

KING: And her older brothers are kind to her?

BEAMER: Very kind.

KING: They do not...

BEAMER: Well, she doesn't steal their toys yet, so, she's not a big threat.

KING: It's coming. We all know that's coming.

BEAMER: It's coming.

KING: Getting through this year, every time you've been on with us, and we've been many times -- and I'll never forget the first one, I guess it was right after the president introduced you -- your faith. What, what kept you through that?

Why did you keep your faith?

BEAMER: You know, as I think back on what happened on September 11 and certainly what's happened since then, so many elements of my life have changed. And you know, if I think of myself as a multi- layered person, all the things on the outside are different and they are not what I wanted them to be. But the thing that hasn't changed is the core. And that is what Todd and I built our lives upon well before September 11.

And that's just faith in a God who we know loves us and a God who we know is in charge of our lives and in charge of the course of events in history. And a God that doesn't change no matter what changes around us.

And certainly of being able to go back and in the middle of a difficult time or difficult day, being able to go back and gain that perspective and just communicate with God in a very real way has been invaluable in facing what I've had to deal with this year.

KING: No anger with God? BEAMER: No.

KING: Your husband is gone.

BEAMER: I've had, you know, in the book I relate an experience that I had growing up when my father passed away at the age of -- I was 15 at the time. And I did go through a long period of anger then and sort of resentment and it's not fair, and bitterness.

And you know, through the course of that experience and just seeing how God stayed with me through that whole thing and really taught me that, you know, I'm not here necessarily to get what I deserve or what I think that I should have, but just to love God and walk with Him. And He's going to provide me whatever I need along the way.

And seeing that experience be true in an earlier time in my life has made it this time around much easier to just accept the circumstances.

KING: So you feel Todd is somewhere now?

BEAMER: Absolutely. Todd is still alive. He is alive in a much different scenario than he was last year at this time, but...

KING: Watching you and the babies?

BEAMER: I don't know how much influence he has or knowledge he has of what goes on here. The Bible doesn't give us really a complete picture of the connection between Heaven and Earth. But I do know that he's experiencing the presence of God.

And he is more alive now than he was before. And I'll join him some day.

KING: We are as a people, people of dates and anniversaries, 9/11 -- I know one part of 9/11 you're going to be with us that night.

BEAMER: That's right.

KING: Senator Clinton, a lot of others, are going to be joining us. What's that going to be like for you, do you think?

BEAMER: I really debated a lot about that day, what to do. Should I go to Shanksville? Should I be part of some memorial somewhere?

KING: Shanksville is the location of...

BEAMER: Of the crash, right. And there's going to be a memorial there that day.

And it's my boy's second day of pre-school. And I just felt like the best thing to do was to have a normal for them and a normal day for me, you know...

KING: Go to school with them?

BEAMER: Yes, I'm going to take them to school. And I'm just going to do what we do, and I think that's what Todd would want us to do. And for us, being so close to this event, September 11 doesn't necessarily hold more weight than any other day. Every day...

KING: Television, I mean you're going to be reminded of it so much that day.

BEAMER: I probably won't watch television that day. I haven't watched a whole lot of television this year. I've gotten to be able more now. But I don't think I'll be watching TV that day.

KING: There must have been a part of you that wanted to go to Pennsylvania though.

BEAMER: There was. And I struggled a lot knowing where the right things to do that day would be. And I just felt like being with my children and taking care of them in the best way that I could couldn't be the wrong thing to do. So...

KING: Let me read a portion of the dedication to Todd in the book. "To Todd, my husband, my everyday hero, thank you for loving God, loving us and always playing hard. Thank you for teaching me patience and mercy. I love you and promise to finish our journey well. See you later."

Boy, he must have been something.

BEAMER: He was.

KING: I would have liked him, right? Sports fan, a nut, right, crazy sports fan, right?

BEAMER: Yes, he was definitely loyal to his teams.

KING: The Chicago teams?

BEAMER: The Chicago Cubs, and the Bulls and the Bears.

KING: Why Chicago? Was he born there?

BEAMER: He spent most of his growing up years in the suburbs of Chicago and Glen Ellen, Illinois. And just got enraptured with the teams and a diehard fan.

KING: Well, at least he hasn't seen the misfortunes of the Cubs once again.


BEAMER: Well, he wouldn't be surprised.

KING: I bet he loves Sosa, though, right?

BEAMER: He did. He did. KING: Lisa Beamer is our guest. She has written the book, "Let's Roll." There is some controversy about that. We'll be talking about that and lots of other things in the full hour ahead. She is our only guest tonight. Don't go away.



KING: We're back with Lisa Beamer. The book is, "Let's Roll."

Before we go over that day and everything, what do you make of the controversy over this? We have the Florida State Seminoles, a major collegiate football team, have adopted this as their -- that's their code for the year, "Let's roll." You're going to hear it at every game. That's the theme for the club.

BEAMER: I think Todd would be honored by that. And you know, all along I've been astounded with the life that "Let's roll" has taken. And as long as...

KING: You don't think it diminishes it, as some think?

BEAMER: No, I think as long as it's used in a way that is an encouraging thing and a positive thing and helps people rally around something that is useful and good, then that's great. And you know, people play sports and they learn from that. And Todd certainly learned a lot from being on a team. And I think the guys on that team will learn things, valuable life lessons.

KING: Did they contact you, the team, at all?

BEAMER: They contacted the foundation and...

KING: Of which you are a part, right?

BEAMER: Right.

KING: Ask for permission or just telling what they were going to do?

BEAMER: I think that just to talk about it. And it wasn't something that we had an issue with at all, so.

KING: Are you going to root for Florida State this year?

BEAMER: Maybe. I (inaudible) Penn State...

KING: Everything that's happened -- Penn State that -- my step- son may go there.


KING: To play quarterback.

BEAMER: Oh. KING: Joe Paterno.

You may look at -- what do you make of all of this 9/11 things, T-shirts, posters, "Let's roll" has become, you know, where you buy it in amusement parlors? What do you make of that?

BEAMER: I guess it's hard being so close to it to discern whether it's being too commercialized or whether it's OK. I mean, there's a point that it needs to be continued to be kept in the public eye and the public mind in order for us to continue our vigilant war against terrorism now and in the future.

But there's also a piece of America that's just a marketing machine too, and you know, and wanting to profit off of things like this...

KING: Goes with the territory?

BEAMER: It does. I mean, we're capitalists...

KING: You don't -- it won't offend you?

BEAMER: Like I said, I think I'm a little too close to judge it effectively. But I guess I just hope for the best, and I hope that no matter what the motive of the person selling the products are, that it's being used to keep Americans focused on what's important.

KING: You can't copyright it, can you?

BEAMER: On "Let's roll?"

KING: Yes.

BEAMER: You can trade-mark things like that. But if...

KING: Does the foundation trade-mark any?

BEAMER: They have a right to the charitable trademark of it.

KING: So if I'm a charity and I want to use it, I have to check with them?

BEAMER: I think so. I'm not a lawyer.

KING: You didn't need any permission to use it as a book title, tough?

BEAMER: No you don't, no.

KING: Tell me the history of it. Did he say it a lot?

BEAMER: He did. We had that sort of like a fun little rallying cry in our family for -- you know, the boys are little and they sometimes need something to get them motivated in the right direction. And, you know, whether it was, "Come on guys, let's go take a bath." And they would keep playing and he's say, "Come on guys, let's roll." And you know, bring them up the stairs and get them motivated to do something.

KING: Did he say it when watching the Bears play on television?

BEAMER: No. It was mostly something he used with the kids.

KING: Just family?

BEAMER: Yes. Yes.

KING: Let's go back to the morning of 9/11 as we trace it through the book, and you write very effectively about it. Todd was scheduled to fly to San Francisco that day, right? What kind of business was he in?

BEAMER: He sold software for Oracle Corporation, and he had a meeting out there on Tuesday afternoon. And he was planning on going out in the morning, and flying back on the red-eye. He had another meeting in New Jersey on Wednesday.

KING: Have they been good to you, Oracle?

BEAMER: Yes, they have. Yes. They lost eight employees that day, seven in the World Trade Center, and then Todd on the flight. So...

KING: And he just -- how did he get to the airport? He just drove off?

BEAMER: He drove himself to the airport. He left about 6:15.

KING: He left his car. He was going to fly back, right?

BEAMER: Right. He left early in the morning.

KING: This was Newark?

BEAMER: Newark Airport.

KING: You live near it, not far from it?

BEAMER: Yes. About a 45 minute drive, something he had done many times.

KING: And you did? What did you do that morning?

BEAMER: We had been on vacation the day before.

KING: Europe, right?


KING: See.

BEAMER: We had just gotten back from Italy. Very good.

KING: Yes. BEAMER: And that morning I got up and did laundry and got ready to go to the grocery store. We didn't even have any milk in the house.

KING: You were how much pregnant?

BEAMER: I was about four and a half months, about half way.

KING: Knew it was a girl?

BEAMER: No. Didn't know it was a girl until she was born.

KING: So Todd died not knowing?

BEAMER: He didn't know, no.

KING: So...

BEAMER: Just doing normal things, that you know, everybody did the morning of September 11. And I was walking out the door to go to the grocery store and the phone rang. And it was a friend asking if Todd was OK and where he was.

She knew he was flying that morning, and I had no idea what she was talking about. And she told me the World Trade Center had been hit with an airplane and, I mean, you know we turned on the TV and of course like every American I was just shocked and knew that the day wasn't going to turn out anything like I expected, and just glued to the TV.

KING: Saw the second plane hit?

BEAMER: Saw the second plane hit. And I still hadn't had any thought that Todd was involved. I wanted to talk to him, because I think everyone wanted to connect...

KING: Were they giving you flight information then, where the flight was going? Did you know that...

BEAMER: I didn't know what flight he was on. I knew he was going to San Francisco, and I did try to call the airlines and find out where he might be. He usually flew Continental, so I called them, and they said that their flights were fine. One had gone out early, and one hadn't left.

So I thought, "OK, he's all right." And then a little while later, I thought "Well, sometimes he flies United to San Francisco because it's a lot cheaper." And so I tried to call United and by then the phones in the New York area were very messed up.

KING: Then you learned of the Pentagon?

BEAMER: Then I learned of the Pentagon, and in the meantime a friend had come over. She just wanted to be there.

KING: Are you now really worried? BEAMER: I wasn't worried, really. I just wanted to talk to Todd, just like everybody wanted to talk to their loved ones that day and say "Can you believe this? Where are you? Are you safe?"

But I wasn't nervous, really. And then, I think when the crash in the Pentagon happened I started to wonder, "How many planes out there are hijacked right now? Is this three or 30?"

And the crash in Pennsylvania came on the TV, and at that point I was very concerned. I knew that's the direction that his flight would have been going, and the timing was about right.

And initially they said it was a flight that was bound to Chicago, so I thought "OK, we're off the hook with that one." And a few minutes later they came back on and said it was a Newark to San Francisco-bound flight on United.

KING: Did you know then?

BEAMER: I knew, immediately, and I was standing behind the couch looking at the TV and I just, I remember I yelled "No," and my friend was there said "You know, it's OK, you know, maybe he's on a different flight, we don't know anything yet."

And I said "No, this is his flight." And I had already seen the pictures and I knew that no one was walking away from that plane. I just told her I was going to go upstairs and asked her to watch the children, and I was up there the rest of the day in my room just sort of praying and...

KING: Did anyone call you officially to...

BEAMER: Oracle called me a few hours later to say that their travel agency had said he was booked for the flight, and then a few hours after that United called and said he was actually on the flight.

But by then I knew.

KING: Post?


KING: The book is "Let's Roll." The author is Lisa Beamer, wife of a 9/11 true hero, Todd Beamer.

More right after this.


KING: The author is Lisa Beamer, the book is "Let's Roll."

Do you remember -- the friends had to take care of the children, right. You must have been in...

BEAMER: I was sort of -- I was doing what I needed to do. I was calling the family. I was sort of orchestrating the next things that needed to happen, but I was internally just sort of mentally trying to hold it together.

KING: Of course, the whole day is so crazy, right? Your husband is dead, and the day is crazy. The world has gone crazy.

BEAMER: I didn't follow the rest of the events of the world that day. I had no idea what all had happened. I knew the World Trade Centers had fallen, but I didn't watch the TV...

KING: You didn't watch them go down or...

BEAMER: They had gone down before Todd's -- before I knew about his flight.

KING: Now what happened with the phone call from the -- from the girl who had talked to Todd? How did that come about?

BEAMER: Probably on Wednesday, I started to hear stories that there had been phone calls made from the plane and that there was the likely event the passengers had caused this plan to crash in Pennsylvania instead of somewhere else. And I started to wonder of course in my head, why Todd hadn't he called. He was always on his cell phone. He had two cell phones and all sorts of different ways of communicating. And wondered if maybe he had been injured and wondered, you know, what had happened on the flight. I never thought I would have any of those answers.

And then on Friday night, you know, they called and said that he had been in contact with an operator for about 15 minutes at the end of the...

KING: An operator for...

BEAMER: For GTE airphone...

KING: The phones that are on all of the planes.

BEAMER: Right. The phones that are on the back of the seats. And so I was able...

KING: He was trying to call you and got her?

BEAMER: Yes, we're sure exactly how it unfolded, but I was able to speak with her the next morning, Lisa Jefferson, and she was able to relay for me their entire conversation and what his demeanor was like. And just an amazing gift that I never that at that point I would ever get.

KING: And you have gotten to meet her, right?

BEAMER: I've met her on several occasions, yes.

KING: All right, what in essence was he telling -- was he describing what was happening on the plane? Did he... BEAMER: He initially called I think just to report that there was a hijacked plane and what could they do and did they know anything? The terrorists had told them they were going to return to the airport and they had demands to be met. So I think Todd was sort of trying to be a liaison and say, "You know, what's going on and can anyone help us?" And trying to give her information on how many people were on the plane and she had certain protocol to go through and he was answering her questions.

KING: Did she tell him about the other crashes?

BEAMER: She did not.

KING: Then why did they know to rush the plane?

BEAMER: Other passengers made phone calls to loved ones, and had gotten that information.

KING: They were told?

BEAMER: Yes. They knew.

KING: So they, did he then relate to this operator that he thinks they are not going to go back to land?

BEAMER: Yes. He -- probably about half way through the conversation it was when the plane abruptly turned around and there was a lot of erratic flying. And I think also got information that they were not going to be landing. The tone of the conversation changed very much at that point where he just relayed to her to call me and gave him...

KING: Your name?

BEAMER: And our number and our names and...

KING: Where was he sitting?

BEAMER: Initially he was sitting in row 11. But the hijackers had pushed all the people in the coach to the back of the plane. So we don't know exactly where, but he was in the back.

KING: And how did it come to, "Let's roll?"

BEAMER: He talked about our family and gave her that information. And he asked her to pray the Lord's Prayer with him. And I think after he did those two things, he felt like now, I'm -- "I've got my priorities straight. And it's time to do something and take some action here." And he told Lisa that he had been -- the other passengers had been talking, and they were going to rush the hijacker with the bomb. And they were going to attempt to get into the cockpit.

And she said, "Todd, are you sure that's what you want to do?" And he said, "It's what we have to do." And he said, "I know we're not going to make it out of here." And so she said, "I will stay on the line." And she heard him put the phone down. And that's when she heard him say the last thing she heard him say. And that was, "Are you guys ready? Let's roll." And she heard some commotion after that. And the line went dead soon thereafter.

KING: What do we now know? Have you been made access to the flight recorder or anything? What do we now know happened?

BEAMER: I heard the flight recorder, and...

KING: They played it for the relatives?

BEAMER: They played it for the families.

KING: Where did they do that? In one setting?


KING: Did you all go to one place?

BEAMER: It was all in Princeton, New Jersey.

KING: In a building?

BEAMER: Yes. In a hotel.

KING: What was that like.

BEAMER: It was another one of those surreal things that you can't believe you're going to.

KING: What do you hear talking, the hijackers and the pilots?

BEAMER: It's actually -- it's the last half hour of tape. So it's right after the initial takeover is when the tape starts. And you know, sound quality is not the best. And there is a lot of noise that's in the background, especially at the end when -- you know, a lot of it is just the terrorists flying the plane for you know, probably 15 minutes or so. They were in the cockpit alone.

KING: Speaking English?

BEAMER: No. No. They were speaking broken English when they were trying to talk to the passengers via the intercom. But to each other, it was Arabic. And that was translated for us. But the ending is just like we thought it would be.

KING: Did you hear the break into the...

BEAMER: It's hard for me not being a person who knows what I'm listening to, to know exactly what I hear.

But it's obvious that the passengers were right there. You can hear their voices picked up on the microphones which are only in the cockpits. You can hear them talking to each other, yelling you know, that there's more than one, you know, that there's crashing of dishes. There's major events going on. KING: Screaming?

BEAMER: Yes. There's a major thump (ph)...

KING: Were you listening for Todd's voice?

BEAMER: The quality of the tape was poor, and there's a lot of alarms going off because the plane was crashing. It was impossible...

KING: Was it good to hear or not good to hear?

BEAMER: I wasn't one of the family members who was pushing to hear it, but when it became available, I knew I had to listen to it. I guess for me it was good to just know that there was additional facts behind all of the things that we speculated from all of the different pieces we could put together.

KING: That plane was going to crash in the Capitol or the White House or someplace, right? It was not going to land?

BEAMER: It wasn't going to land.

KING: What was like in the room when all of the people were listening?

BEAMER: Well, we all had headsets on, and obviously everyone was extremely quiet and solemn and trying to, with rapt attention, get everything they could out of the tape. It was something you'd never want to have to experience.

KING: She wrote of how she told her son, David, in the book. "We sat down together on the bean bag and I held David close to me on my lap. I started by talking about airplanes. I said, David, Daddy was flying on airplane yesterday and you know that most of the time airplanes are safe but sometimes they have accidents. And David, the plane that Daddy was on yesterday had an accident and it hit the ground real hard. Everyone was hurt badly and died."

And he of course said, "Well, Daddy is going to come off the plane, right?"

The book is "Let's Roll," the author Lisa Beamer.

We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Lisa Beamer.

Odd that the girl from the GTE was also named Lisa, huh? Why didn't he call you, do you think?

BEAMER: I think he was trying to get help, and I think he knew that someone else could help him better than I, and I think he was also trying to protect me. A couple of times through the conversation Lisa told him that she could connect him to me if he wanted to, and he went back and forth, you know, "Yes, no, yes, no," and finally decided that that wasn't the right thing to do.

He was concerned about the baby and I think was just trying to resolve the situation.

KING: Would you in retrospect, have liked to have heard?

BEAMER: I don't think in that scenario I would have been a good person to talk to. I think I would have -- I'm much better over the long-term, yes.

KING: You got to visit the crash site.

BEAMER: I've been in Shanksville two times.

KING: What was it like?

BEAMER: The first time I went was on the Monday after September 11, so it was six days after. It was, it's a very peaceful place. It's amazing.

I went there with fear and trepidation, thinking that this visual sight is going to put me over the edge, and when I got there I was just struck by the natural beauty. It's just a field with a forest behind it. There's one small farm off in the background.

KING: Had they cleared everything off in six days?

BEAMER: There really wasn't much there to begin with, because the plane had hit the ground so hard and was buried underneath the ground for the most part in fragments.

So it wasn't the visual that you sometimes see of a plane crash. And there was, it looked sort of like a construction site, really.

KING: Did you seek any psychological help?

BEAMER: Oh yes, I've been in counseling since November. I go every week. It's right now the highlight of my week. I think it's so important.

KING: Helps a lot?

BEAMER: It's so important to be able to have an objective perspective and someone who can, you know -- friends and family are very close to this whole thing -- someone who can just help me get the right perspective on all of this has been immensely helpful.

And I'm also in a support group of other people who lost family members on September 11, which has also been...

KING: In just that crash or in others? BEAMER: Most of them are the World Trade Center, because it's near my home in New Jersey, so there's a couple from Flight 93, one from another flight, but most of them are from the World Trade.

KING: Can we estimate that the hopefully there was no pain involved? That they were dead instantly?

BEAMER: Yes. There's emotional pain.

KING: Yes.

BEAMER: They knew for a half-hour they weren't going to come home, but physical pain, I don't think so.

KING: Weeks following the death you write, "I'd walk into Todd's closet, see his clothes, start crying. Sometimes even now I go to the closet and close the doors, I crumple on the floor and for a few minutes just weep. I read the notes he wrote to me, I touch his pillow, I wipe the tears the tears with his T-shirt, I weep until there are no more tears."

Are there lots of his stuff in the house?

BEAMER: Yes. He had a game room and an office that he had sort of decorated and set up with his stuff, his sports stuff, his business stuff. And it was just, it's so him, that area of the house, and I've cleared away a lot of the day-to-day stuff which is not useful anymore, but I've really left those rooms sort of like they are because they're a comfort to me, but I also think the children will be able to get a really good sense of who he was by being there.

And, you know, I still have a lot of his personal things that I'm going to keep for them, because they need to know who he was on a very daily sort of basis.

KING: Does the four-year-old comprehend now?

BEAMER: Yes, he got a very strong sense immediately that this was a final thing. He certainly asks more questions as he develops intellectually about what happened on the plane, and you know, "What's it like where Daddy is?" and all sorts of different things as he realizes the bigger ramifications of all this.

And for all three children, as they develop it's going to be a part of their growing up.

KING: What's it like, excuse me I got distracted, what's it like to become a public person yourself?

BEAMER: I've tried to relegate that to a very small area of my life. For the majority of how I spend my time and where I spend my energies, it's been on my children and on my family and on healing. And that's the most important thing.

KING: But I mean, you've become famous, dealing with that.

BEAMER: I try to ignore that part as much as possible. You know, when I have...

KING: You try to limit your media. I know you do that.

BEAMER: When I have things, requests that come, for the most part I don't do them. And if I feel like it's something that could be very beneficial and I feel like it won't take away from my family, I consider it. But most of the things I just -- it doesn't fit into the priorities that I know I need to have.

KING: It is suddenly weird to be a public person?

BEAMER: It's very weird.

KING: You're recognized?

BEAMER: Yes, it's very strange even to think that, you know, all of these personal details are...

KING: Your face is on the cover of a book...

BEAMER: ... yes as I walk through a store with my son to see that sitting there is -- it's almost so unbelievable that it doesn't affect...

KING: Surreal?

BEAMER: Yes, in some ways you just sort of say, "It doesn't make any sense."

KING: What was Thanksgiving and Christmas like?

BEAMER: Thanksgiving was the first holiday, and that was very difficult. Todd's birthday was that same weekend, and it was just sort of "Let's get through this 24 hours and be done with this."

Christmas, I tried to really look at it through the eyes of my children and have the joy that they would have. And I think through a lot of these things that have happened this year, I just have realized over and over that, you know, there's going to be elements of sadness in our lives. And there's going to be elements of joy. And I've tried to go back and forth, if I feel sad, I let myself feel sad. If I feel happy, I let myself feel happy with no quilt.


KING: What was Father's Day like? I mean Mother's Day, you're a mother and you're alive and your children are there. But Father's Day?

BEAMER: Yes, that was a bad too. I sort of planned ahead to try to find something that we could do that would be totally different from anything that we would normally have done. And I took the kids to an amusement park for the day with my mom and my sister and brother. And it was fun day. We had a great time.

It was another one of those things where I just said, "I can be miserable today. Or I can enjoy this because we're having a good time." And I chose to enjoy.

KING: The family has been important, right? His and yours?


KING: His parents still alive?


KING: Do you see them a lot?


KING: They get to experience their grandchildren?


KING: Did he have brothers and sisters?

BEAMER: He has two sisters.

KING: Are you close to them, too?


KING: Everybody in the family gets along?

BEAMER: Melissa, his older sister, was with me when Morgan was born. And you know, we spend -- we have a family vacation we do every year with Todd's family. We did that. You know, we'll always be an important part of each other's lives, and certainly the children need that.

KING: Did they name the post office after him?

BEAMER: They did, in Cranbury...

KING: And what...

BEAMER: ... the Cranbury, the town where we live.

KING: Cranbury Station is the -- Todd, it says his name up there.

BEAMER: Yes, there's a plaque on it right when you walk in the door.

KING: We'll be back with more of Lisa Beamer. Her book is out and everywhere. It's called "Let's Roll."

Don't go away.


KING: I understand with Lisa Beamer, the book "Let's Roll," that President Bush wrote to your daughter. BEAMER: He did. He and Mrs. Bush each sent a letter to Morgan when she was born.

KING: Saying?

BEAMER: I remember President Bush's said about what he Daddy did and how important it was, and how she can be proud of her family and wishing her the best. And it's a great keepsake for her, I think, to understand all of this a little better.

KING: That day of being in Congress, that day, what was that like for you?

BEAMER: It was only 10 days after the 11th, and I was still so much reeling from the reality of Todd being gone. Sort of put it all in a different perspective than it would have in ordinary circumstances.

I think one of the neatest things was just being able to be there and see the Capitol standing, the White House standing and know that perhaps what Todd and the passengers of Flight 93 did really affected the way our nation's Capitol is today.

KING: People were amazed at your composure. Recently we had the mother on who lost a little daughter to a tragic killing, and she also was composed.

Is this part of your inner nature? Are you acting?

BEAMER: I'm not acting. Certainly there's times when I'm more emotional and those are much more private.

But like I said earlier, the core of my being hasn't changed and the core of God's being hasn't changed. And those are the -- that connection has enabled me to have a perspective on all of this that's much bigger than this little incident, really. But you know, I think I just, having the children, certainly gives me perspective and reason to...

KING: But you did some -- you flew on the same flight, right?


KING: You flew -- they don't give it that number or any more do they?

BEAMER: No, they don't.

KING: But you flew United in the morning out of Newark to San Francisco. Why?

BEAMER: Actually I was going out -- I had to go out to San Francisco, I wanted to go out to San Francisco, for a meeting regarding the foundation. And I knew that if I didn't go...

KING: Could have flown Continental at night. BEAMER: Well, United had offered us tickets, which was a nice thing. And I really didn't even think it through that this was the same flight at the same time, until, you know, the media caught wind of it and it became this big thing.

I just wanted to go to San Francisco. And I knew that I had to fly to get there. And I knew that for me, I was not going to be impeded in my life by what the terrorists had done. And I wasn't not going to be able to do things like fly on an airplane because you know, people in Afghanistan had chosen to do what they did.

KING: What do you make of all that's happened since, al Qaeda, Afghanistan, war, airport security, people in Guantanamo? What do you make of all of this since that day?

BEAMER: I guess for the most part of this year I felt like I don't have a lot of bandwidth to deal with all of that. I need to really use all of my strength and energy on just my little world and my little family. And certainly I have confidence that the powers in our country that can effect change, the government and corporate America in the case of the airlines, are going to do the right things that they need to do to not only rout out the problems of September 11, but hopefully protect us more for the future.

And certainly I have concerns that that continues to happen and you know, especially in the case of airline security, I think some things have happened, but I think a whole lot more needs to that's more substantial.

But for me and where I can really affect the world is in a much smaller area than all of that.

KING: You flew here today?


KING: What was that like? For example, were you searched?

BEAMER: Actually, I was. Today I was pulled aside, I had my shoes taken off, I had, you know, the metal detector over me. Usually they know who I am and they don't, I think they let me go by, but for some reason today I was searched.

And that's fine. I don't mind being searched at all. But sometimes I feel like those measures are there somewhat for security but also just to make people feel secure. And I just hope that the underlying things as far as intelligence information on passengers and those really substantial things, are truly taken care of.

Because those are things that really make a difference that aren't as easy to see but are much more important, I think.

KING: Do you find yourself on a plane looking around? Looking at the passengers, wondering, profiling?

BEAMER: Not really. No, I don't. KING: You get on, sit down, and...

BEAMER: I do, I pretty much do what I did before. And I think all of us are more attuned to, if something went on that was unusual during a flight, and I think that's been shown to be true in cases of the shoe bomber and the man who was mentally ill, where the passengers took immediate action and the crew.

And I think people are more likely to do that, but for me I just feel like, I try to make wise decisions and put myself in places where I need to be, and I don't really worry a lot about my security, truly.

KING: So you don't walk around looking behind you?

BEAMER: No, not at all.

KING: You feel safe? In an unsafe world, you feel safe?

BEAMER: I guess I don't know if I necessarily feel safe, but I feel that I am, I'm in God's hands, and I try to make wise choices certainly and don't put myself in dangerous situations. But I don't have a whole lot of stress in my life about much.

KING: Do you ever think that with all the attention on the World Trade Center, what are they going to build there now, et cetera, and the horror of those pictures, has taken away some, a little bit from Pennsylvania and the Pentagon?

BEAMER: I don't think so.

KING: That the focus is there, the New York focus, is there for September 11?

BEAMER: I think that as much as all the incidents are wrapped up because they had the same root cause, they were all different in how they played out, and certainly I think the memorialization of each will be different because, when you go Shanksville, Pennsylvania, you're in the middle of a farm field.

And when you go to New York City, you're in the middle of, you know, a city. And the numbers of people that were lost were very different, and the emotional effect on the country of both incidents and the Pentagon were very different. And I know there will be memorials at each of the locations, and I think they will reflect the individuality of each of those scenarios.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Lisa Beamer. We're going to find out, "What now?"

The book is "Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage."

We'll be right back.


KING: Tell me about the status of the foundation, the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, which is set up to help children who have lost a parent on September 11. Twenty-two children lost a parent, right, I think at least...

BEAMER: On Todd's flight alone. Thousands of children in the whole event lost a parent.

KING: Oh, of course.

BEAMER: We've sort of honed our mission statement this spring, and we've decided to really work with children who have been through a family trauma, whether it's 9/11 or something else, and develop a program for them that will help them use that experience as a character-building experience for them.

You know, children who have been through this, some might turn out bitter and angry and really people that are much different than they would have been before. And we're hoping that we help them become heroes like Todd was.

KING: How do people help?

BEAMER: We have received over $3 million in contributions so far. And we certainly...

KING: On a Web site or...

BEAMER: Yes, we have a Web site -- And Zach (ph) has more information on the program and how to contribute.


We're going to touch some other bases. How could of father was he?

BEAMER: He was the best. He loved his kids unconditionally and he...

KING: Did you love him from the minute you met him?

BEAMER: Todd? Yes, we always knew that we wanted to next step in our relationship. We took it slow, but we knew that...

KING: How did you first meet?

BEAMER: We met in college at a...

KING: What school?

BEAMER: We went to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. We had a senior seminar class together at the -- our last class.

KING: So you...

BEAMER: Yes, our last class before graduation.

KING: What was his weakness? Nothing is perfect. What about Todd would you have liked to have changed?

BEAMER: Something he was working really hard to change and we both knew was important was how to balance his work life and his family life and his other priorities...

KING: What an oddity.



And I actually talk about that a lot in the book.

KING: Was he a workaholic?

BEAMER: He tended to sometimes allow his work to become where he based his self esteem, and that pushed him to do things that he probably didn't want to do sometimes. But he really was working to get a handle on that and was doing a great job.

KING: You are young. You are extraordinarily attractive. You have three children. Life goes on. Would you remarry?

BEAMER: I don't know. I've learned a lot this year, and one thing I've learned is to just take one day at a time.

KING: Have you started to socialize at all. Have friends said, "I've met a nice a man?"


KING: Will that be quite a while?

BEAMER: I think so. You know right now all I know is that my children are my priority. And that's where I need to spend my time and my energy. So like I said, I sort of take one day at a time right now. And I know that God's going to give me the grace and the strength and the purpose for the next day. And I don't really look too far ahead down the road.

KING: It must be hard, Lisa -- well, maybe not in your case it isn't -- to be normal. Like for example, anytime you see a plane flying, don't you think about it?


KING: Any plane flying anywhere?

BEAMER: And my boys, you know...

KING: They play with planes, don't they? Boys with planes...

BEAMER: They do. They see an airplane and they get excited about it.

KING: Plane. BEAMER: They do. And it's like everything else, all of our life is going to have a lot of bitter sweet in it now. And I think it's a matter of choice for me to over the course of time to really dwell on the negative, or dwell on the positive. And this year I've in the beginning struggled and now it's sort of becoming more of a habit to just say, "Yes, I acknowledge that feeling and that thought, but I'm going to deal on this joyful side over here instead."

KING: What aspect of life has the psychologist helped you most with?

BEAMER: I think she's really helped me to assimilate Todd into our life still. And it's obviously much different than it was before September 11, but Todd is still a very important part of our family. And very active in our family...

KING: And that's important.

BEAMER: It's very important I think to me and to the children to be able to include him in our family both now and in the future and allow his influence to continue in all of us.

KING: Is there a memorial plot anywhere? Is there a burial kind of site?

BEAMER: All of the families from Flight 93 were able to receive remains and that was due to...

KING: No kidding. Even as far underground as it went.

BEAMER: Not a lot, but the coroner out there, Wally Miller, did a great job and just making sure that every measure was taken to get something back...

KING: So he is buried somewhere?

BEAMER: In Cranbury.

KING: In a plot in a cemetery?


KING: Is it a family plot?

BEAMER: No, it's just in our town. It's in a nice little church graveyard.

KING: What does it say on it?

BEAMER: It has his name, and the dates of his birth and death, and then I put a verse from the Bible, Micah 6:8. And it's a very simple verse, and it's a verse that Todd loved.

And it just talks about what God requires of people, and it just talks about how he just wants them to walk humbly with God and to act justly and to love mercy. And those are things that Todd espoused in his life and I think in a very short statement say a lot about him.

KING: When you think of him, think "Hero?" Think "Husband hero, father?"

BEAMER: I don't think about the 9/11 piece really. That's sort of, it's a natural outgrowth of who Todd was, but it doesn't really jibe with the Todd that I knew as far as just a normal person.

I just think of him as the imperfect person that I knew and loved, and that I knew was the best father I could ever imagine for my children and all the influences that he had on me, and vicariously will have on our family for years to come.

KING: How old was he?

BEAMER: He was 32.

KING: So you are now 33, right?

BEAMER: I had a birthday.

KING: Miss him? Easy to miss him.


KING: The book is out, the foundation is going. You now walk gently into the night. Is Lisa Beamer going to leave us now in that sense, the public Lisa Beamer?

BEAMER: Like I said, I don't look too far down the road and try to make predictions, because my life is far beyond being able to predict, as I've known this year.

But, like I said, I know that my children and my family are number one.

KING: We're going to do a major two-hour program the night of 9/11 from New York. Many, many people will be the guests. Lisa will be one of them. Her book is "Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage."

Thank you so much.

BEAMER: I pray. Thank you.

KING: Lisa Beamer. We hope you have a great weekend.

We have outstanding shows coming this weekend on LARRY KING WEEKEND. And Monday night, over this weekend I'm going to get to visit Robert Blake in jail. We can't tape it, but I will be able to ask him questions and I'll let you know the answers on Monday.

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for Aaron Brown and NEWSNIGHT.

And good night.