Friday, February 13, 2009

A Woman of Valor

As most know, this week we witnessed another horrific plane crash, this time in Buffalo, NY killing all on board as well as one unwitting soul in his home. Not a 747, but one of those commuter jets, the kind they'd have to drag me on after administering near lethal doses of valium. I'm just a mortal, and we all have our own tales of misfortune and sadness to speak of. Learning of the stories behind the passengers on that fateful trip has marred my thought process and rendered me emotionally incapacitated. Two former college students returning to Buffalo, a pilot who was on board just to "hitch a ride", the take-over-mom's-role sister with ten siblings, a very talented and well renowned musician's band members, and the list goes on. For the press, one name stood out, for she had a voice that will live on way past the flesh of her body inhabits the earth. For me, that same person has special significance.
I am speaking of Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow who lost her high school sweetheart who later became her husband, on that day which still haunts my being. Beverly had many friends to share her grief with, those who lost friends and family members. For most, the years have taken their toll, the monetary compensation has been doled out, and the pain remains as the years go on. There are those that are followers and those that are leaders. I think by now, you know which category Beverly belonged to.

The loss of her husband ripped her world apart. She had never bore children and so her raison d'etre might have waned. The kind of personal devastation one feels over losing a loved one in the most despicable way imaginable would lead most to a daily reclining position but not Beverly.

Beverly refused to accept the 1.8 million dollars to which she was entitled upon her husband's murder. Money does not heal wounds, and she was determined to take a front seat as an advocate for getting to the truth of 9/11.
"The victims fund was not created in a spirit of compassion. Rather, it was a tacit acknowledgment by Congress that it tampered with our civil justice system in an unprecedented way. Lawmakers capped the liability of the airlines at the behest of lobbyists who descended on Washington while the Sept. 11 fires still smoldered."
Beverly wanted to hold Congress, lobbyists, and the various vermin that inhabit our government accountable, and her voice rose above her gut wrenching sadness as a beacon of hope for the victims and their families. Here is a synopsis of her mission.
Beverly, like most who have lost loved ones, could not live with the idea that her husband had perished in vain. She implored Congress to do a better job protecting Americans from terrorism, part of a crew of Sept. 11 widows, mothers, and children who became amateur lobbyists, spending months in Congress and ultimately forcing lawmakers in 2004 to pass sweeping reforms of U.S. intelligence. As co-chair of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, she pressed for the 9/11 Commission that investigated the attacks and prompted the ultimate reforms.

"I did all of this for Sean's memory, I did it for him," she had said. "There is a euphoria in knowing that we reached the top of the hill. ... I just wanted Sean to come home from work. Maybe now, someone else's Sean will get to come home."

Beverly was returning to her own hometown of Buffalo, NY on her way to celebrate her late husband's 58th birthday with family, when she too, suffered a tragic fate. She also had planned to take part in presentation of a scholarship award at Canisius High School that she established in honor of her late husband.

The school that my son attended found itself in the position of counting amongst its students, new orphans. Beverly met with the Resident Select last week to discuss her concerns and to receive assurances as to his stance regarding Gitmo and national security. There is no doubt she received his usual platitudes, but I pray that somehow she will linger in his mind when he contemplates taking his hand off the trigger. He would need a conscience for that, and I'm not very confident in that thought.

These are the times when I question why G-d takes good people from us in an untimely and devastating fashion. I must believe that we are here for a reason, if only to suffer so that succeeding generations never have to.
May you rest in peace Beverly, with your Sean.

You will be missed.

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