Asides: Heroes abound

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anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, was marked last week with the customary somber remembrances, especially at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek, Somerset County, which Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited on the heels of some good news. On Monday, it was announced that the capital campaign to raise $40 million for the memorial had exceeded its goal. On Tuesday, Ms. Jewell helped break ground for a new visitors center -- to open in 2015 -- which is one of the projects funded by the campaign. On Wednesday's anniversary, Ms. Jewell spoke at the annual observance, which included a reading of the names of the 40 passengers and crew aboard the flight. The heroic attempt to overcome the terrorists may have doomed the plane, but it saved the White House or the Capitol from destruction and became a powerful symbol of defiance that still inspires Americans mourning the tragedy of 9/11.

AN AMERICAN HERO of an unlikely but critical naval battle, on Lake Erie during the War of 1812, was Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. He is remembered in history books for defeating a British squadron. "We have met the enemy and they are ours ... ," he famously reported after the heroics were done. The battle was fought on Sept. 10, 1813, 200 years ago last Tuesday. To mark the bicentennial, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp of Perry leaving his damaged flagship to transfer his command to the brig USS Niagara. (Today its replica, the Flagship Niagara, sails out of Erie.) The battle scene portrayed on the stamp was painted by Ohio artist William Henry Powell at the direction of Congress in 1865. We have met the mailman and history is ours.

FRANCO HARRIS was a hero only of the gridiron, but in that capacity he thrilled a generation of Pittsburghers -- and now he may thrill opera lovers, too. On Oct. 18, the former Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Hall of Famer will play the "Champion of Champions" in the Pittsburgh Opera's production of Verdi's "Aida." He will appear in a ceremonial role -- no singing, no speaking -- in the Act 2 Triumphal Scene with more than 100 others. Bruno Sammartino, Pittsburgh's most beloved wrestler, played the same role in 2008. Only in America, home of the brave, land of the free and the unusual.



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