An update on the consequences of the tragic Continental crash in Buffalo. This is a beautiful piece of writing by Nancy O’Brien and it recalls the power of a single voice in the after-math of the 9-11. Nancy was working for the Daily News back then (here’s what she’s up to these days). I worked with her on an op-ed I wrote for the Daily News post-Katrina. She is a very tough, very talented editor and, wow, can she write.
It seems almost hard to remember. A mere four months – only weeks, really – after the World Trade Center towers collapsed, a disparate group of 9/11 families still reeling from the unthinkable loss of their loved ones were sent reeling further by accusations of being a greedy bunch of moneygrubbers with their eyes on the big dollar signs promised by Congress’ Victim Compensation Fund.
The 9/11 families needed a voice, and Beverly Eckert, whose husband, Sean Rooney, died in the south tower while on the phone with her, found the courage, in his honor, to try to speak on their behalf. Reluctantly, upon request, she took up her pen, and on Jan. 28, 2002, her cogent, clear Op-Ed appeared in the Daily News.
In her grief, Eckert, who tragically died last Thursday in the plane crash near Buffalo, had “done the right thing.” Speaking with uncanny intelligence in one voice for the incongruent mix of individuals who had been widely dismissed as having few rights, much less any real power, in those days, she defended the integrity and fortified the stance of the gathering force that was the 9/11 families.
When we sum up a life spent “doing the right thing,” which we are forced to do now much too soon, what emerges strong and clear with Beverly Eckert is, in fact, power. We see the power of one, the power of many, the power of words, of democracy and compassion – and we see the power of love, for she did it all for Sean.
Consider a key passage from that first Op-Ed, “9/11 Families Want Fairness, Not Riches,” Jan. 28, 2002:
“. . . be very sure of this: No matter what the award, any victim’s family would gladly trade places with those members of the public who have been so critical. We would give anything to be where they are, instead of where we are. If only we could.”
That first stab at being a voice for the 9/11 community was to be one of three pieces she wrote for the Daily News at significant and controversial times in our post-9/11 history, even as she became an often quoted “9/11 widow.”
The whole post is here. It offers a poignant reminder of how much we all lost on that icy night in Buffalo….