Americans cheered on January 15, 2009 when it was discovered that every person onboard a plane that went down in the Hudson River in New York had survived. Now, almost exactly a month later, all of the passengers aboard a commuter plane that fell from the sky in Buffalo, New York are dead, as well as one person in the home it crashed into.
There are still many questions surrounding the crash as this point; did the plane suffer a mechanical failure? Did it fall from the sky due to icy weather? Why didn’t the pilot report any problems? And what was the cause of the strange noise it was making that many witnesses reported? In time these questions will be answered, but for now many families are in mourning over their lost loved ones, and answers aren’t going to help.
Among the 50 dead reported was a woman who is no stranger to mourning a lost loved one, Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow who was on her way to celebrate what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday party. Sean Rooney was one of the hundreds of men who died in the World Trade Center buildings, leaving behind wives that are now collectively referred to as the 9/11 widows. However, Beverly Eckert refused to take the average $1.8 million dollar settlement the government offered the 9/11 widows, and, unlike many of them, never remarried.
Instead, Eckert began dedicating her time and effort to finding answers to how and why the tragic events of September 11, 2001 were allowed to happen by becoming a member of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission, founding the Voices of September 11th victims advocacy group, urging Congress to form an investigative commission, and pushing for intelligence reform legislation. But in 2004, she told a reporter with ‘U.S. News & World Report’ that the last three years her life at that point felt like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’; she was constantly getting up, going to the same building, and fighting the same fight to get things done.
Beverly Eckert believed that the government’s large payments to 9/11 victims was an acknowledgement by Congress that it had erred at some point, and, above all, she wanted to make sure that her husband’s death didn’t end up being meaningless. She has been called an inspiration by President Obama, whom she just met with last week at a meeting he held with relatives of 9/11 victims and the USS Cole bombing.
So her death is a great loss, as are the deaths of all of those involved in the Buffalo plane crash. But hopefully Beverly Eckert’s death will also not be meaningless; it has brought to light again the many problems with the way the September 11th attacks were handled and reminds all victims that feel they don’t have a voice that they should keep on fighting for answers.