Honoring Beverly Eckert

“Never underestimate the power of a woman.”

In the days following September 11, 2001, a group of women who lost loved ones to unbearable horror turned their grief to action and made this country safer.

We all remember “The Jersey Girls” - Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Lorie Van Auken and Mindy Kleinberg – New Jersey women who lost their husbands that fateful day.

A fifth woman, Beverly Eckert of Stamford, Connecticut, also lost her husband that day and worked as tirelessly to get answers and to ensure our nation would never again suffer such a loss.

She was one of those women attending the 9/11 Commission hearings who reacted to testimony at the most appropriate times and in the most appropriate ways, and we marveled at their courage.

Spoken through tears, she once said of her efforts, “I just wanted Sean to come home from work. Maybe now, someone else's Sean will get to come home."

Her husband and high school sweetheart, Sean Rooney, died on the 98th floor of WTC’s south tower, and on Feb. 13, she was ready to commemorate his birthday.

Beverly Eckert, 57, was killed that day in the commuter plane crash in Buffalo, New York.

The Associated Press reported:

“Up until the very last moments of her life, Sept. 11 widow Beverly Eckert poured her grief into action — pushing presidents, lawmakers and even herself to do more to make the country safer.”


“She carried that grief to Congress as she advocated for better anti-terror efforts, part of a small group of widows, mothers and children who played the roles of lobbyists.

“She pushed for a 9/11 Commission. She pushed the Bush administration to provide more information to the Commission. And when the Commission's work was over, she pushed Congress to adopt their recommendations.

“Together, they forced lawmakers in 2004 to pass sweeping reforms of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.”

One of the first things the new Congress did following Election 2006 was to adopt all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

One week before her death, Eckert, as part of a group of 9/11 and USS Cole families, met with President Barack Obama to discuss how his administration would handle terror suspects.

Yesterday, I listened on C-SPAN as members of the U.S. House praised Eckert’s courage and tenacity before passing H.Res. 201 – “Recognizing Beverly Eckert’s service to the Nation and particularly to the survivors and families of the September 11, 2001, attacks.”

I just wanted us to take a moment to remember her, too.

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