Twenty-one years after 9/11, mourners remember the lives of Mark Bingham and Mychal Judge, two heroes who lost their lives in the attacks.
Bingham is remembered for having joined with passengers on Flight 93 to thwart the hijackers’ plans. While terrorists planned to crash the plane into the White House, Capitol Building, or Camp David, Bingham was among those who led a revolt, forcing the plane to crash in a field. All aboard died, but the death toll would have been far greater had they not intervened.
Bingham is remembered as a brave and loving man.
His mother, Alice Hoagland, and his partner, Paul Holm, carry on his legacy by fighting for LGBTQ+ equality. An avid rugby player and founder of the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club, Birmingham is also remembered through the Bingham Cup, a biennial tournament established in 2002.
“I lost my son, but gained 60 teams of rugby players,” Hoagland told reporters in 2014.
Also warmly remembered is Father Mychal Judge, a priest who died in the World Trade Center attacks. Upon learning that the World Trade Center had been attacked, Judge rushed to the scene so that he could administer rites and comfort victims. He was memorialized in a famous photo of rescuers carrying his body from the rubble.
Judge, who was open about his sexuality to those close to him, could become the first gay saint to be recognized by the church, according to Slate. His family and friends are pushing for the recognition under a new designation known as oblatio vitae, the “offering of life.” These saints are recognized as having given their lives in moments of great self-sacrifice, rather than having been responsible for miracles.
While Judge had a long-term relationship with his partner, Al Alvarado, he is not thought to have violated his vows to the church. Still, canonization of an openly gay man could be a difficult road. The church continues to regard homosexuality as “objectively disordered.”
But even before his death, Judge had a long history of ministering to the marginalized, particularly queer people. In the 1980s, he responded to a classified ad seeking priests who could minister to those living with HIV/AIDS. He was among the few at the time who were not afraid of stigma, holding people in his arms and speaking at funerals.
Judge and Birmingham were devoted to a life of helping others. Each of them left the world better than they found it.