On this day 17 years ago, I, along with the rest of our country, was rocked by the images of the
Twin Towers first being hit by planes, and then crashing to the ground in Lower Manhattan. On
that day there were many heroes, many who died, and we may never know most of their
personal stories. Our firefighters, our law enforcement, our healthcare professionals, and our
everyday citizens all had a role in mitigating what could have been an even more significant
In the ensuing years, I, like many others in special operations, “brought the fight to the enemy.”
We developed and used innovative techniques to find and locate violent extremists who would
do our country harm. I have been fortunate to be able to use those same innovations in the fight
against human trafficking with DeliverFund. However, through all the years, the building of all
the 9/11 memorials, through all the ceremonies at the World Trade Center site and at the
Pentagon, something always nagged me, somewhere in the back of my mind.
While there were many heroes that day to be sure, one particular group stands out: The
passengers of United Airlines Flight 93. They weren’t acting in any official capacity, nor did they
have any legal obligation to act at all. They selflessly brought the fight to the enemy, sacrificing
their own lives in the process of crashing their plane into a Pennsylvania field before it could
reach its intended destination. In so doing, they likely had the most significant impact in
frustrating the terrorists’ plans that day. They were proactive in their response.
This is not to take away from the many other heroes that lived and died on that tragic day. It is
just to say that there is something special about that small group of 40 people, who—untrained
and with only unmitigated intestinal fortitude—risked it all to fight for something greater than
themselves. They made a significant impact. They felt a responsibility to do something. We
would all be wise to use them as a guidepost in how to be Americans.
I am fortunate that I had the training and opportunities to serve my country as a Navy SEAL. I
also consider myself fortunate to be a part of DeliverFund, which is taking the fight to human
traffickers. For far too long, our country has been reactive to the threat human trafficking
represents. DeliverFund, like those intrepid souls on Flight 93, is taking the proactive approach.
With our donors’ help, we are storming the cockpits of human trafficking networks to attack
those who are bent on evil. By so doing, we too will prevent further atrocities from happening.
This is not to equate the levels of sacrifice between the two groups. The passengers and crew
on United Flight 93 gave their lives; we owe their families a debt that can never be repaid. But
we can honor them and the sacrifice they made by living as they chose to: By owning the
moment. By becoming something bigger than we ever thought we could be. By upholding the
noblest of American ideals and fighting for something bigger than ourselves.
To all the souls on United Flight 93: Thank you for your courage to act. Thank you for your
selflessness. Thank you for being bigger than—and for being better than, for being braver
than—your own instincts for self-preservation. Your actions resonate louder today than our
words can express.
Mike Fullilove is a retired Navy SEAL who served the US for over 20 years. He currently sits as the Director of Operations for DeliverFund in the hunt for human traffickers. Fullilove is the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and numerous specific commendation medals.