14 February 2009

Reflections on a remarkable life...

In the coming days, the media accounts of Beverly's life and works will continue, and I will try to find the most notable. 

Beverly's quickly mastered skills as a "citizen activist" were admired by those with long experience in the political arena, among them, Timothy Roemer, who became a 9-11 commissioner after serving as a Member of Congress for 12 years, representing the 107th District in Illinois. In a Los Angeles Times article by Bob Drogin, Roemer says of Beverly: "She really redefined for America how to be an effective activist and committed citizen." He adds, "When she started, she didn't know if the House or Senate was bigger. Ultimately, she was leading strategy sessions, meeting editorial boards, leading rallies." I especially like the photo of Beverly that accompanies the article: she's squatting gracefully next to pile of lumber, clad in a white work shirt, jeans, sun-visor and tool belt, working in Slidell, La. on a Habitat for Humanity project. [Photo by Matthew Hinton, AFP/Getty Images.]

Tragedy forged a special connection between Beverly and the people of Slidell, La. For Beverly, it had been 9-11, and for the people of Slidell it was Hurricane Katrina. Habitat for Humanity projects helped the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast recover from the devastating storm. An article by Doug Mouton describes how a 9-11 memorial established by the people of Slidell deeply touched Beverly. "Out of everything you folks have been through," she said, "that you still want to do this 9-11 memorial is just, really, it just moved me, and I said 'I'm thanking the city with my heart, but I'm thanking you with my hands as well." Christine Harvey of the New Orleans Times-Picayune added more details to Beverly's Slidell connection. 

The photo above by Matthew Hinton shows Beverly working in Slidell with her Habitat colleagues. A slideshow with wonderful photos of Beverly's activities in the area has been assembled Hinton, of the Times-Picayune. Hinton also recorded an accompanying narration by Beverly, in which she described her work, and the inspiration she drew from Sean. This multimedia package sensitively evokes Beverly's love, strength, courage and expansive spirit.

There are some lovely and illuminating words from people who knew, loved and respected Beverly in this Hartford Courant article by Jesse Leavenworth. Beverly's long-time partner in 9-11 struggles and victories, and friend, Mary Fetchett, said, "Beverly's friendship, spirit and commitment were an inspiration to all those who had the privilege to work with her. It was an honor to know her and her friendship will be sorely missed." Others spoke of Beverly's multiple interests, stressing that she was not solely interested in 9-11, but her community as well, and the world at large. And when her major political battles were won in Washington, she gave herself a well-deserved break by setting off on other adventures, including long-distance sailing trips.

"She made a difference: Beverly Eckert became a force for good after her husband was killed on 9/11" reads the headline over the editorial in today's New York Daily News. So true. The accompanying photo makes me smile, even now. Beverly is beaming, sundrenched and windblown, an American flag crossing her heart. It is a wonderful way to remember her...

This thoughtful article by Jim Dwyer of the New York Times is warmed by his acquaintance with Beverly, and his genuine admiration for her accomplishments. And we are treated to another facet of her complex personality: "She had the rare ability to separate the part of her that was grieving from the part that was rational, objective, analytic," said John Farmer, a senior counsel to the 9-11 Commission.

"Flight 3407 tragedy silences Beverly Eckert, voice of 9-11" is the apt headline over Michael Daly's fine column in the New York Daily News. And he lets us know that Beverly "proved to have a unique gift" for bringing together 9-11 activists with varied political views, "bridging the differences between civilians and firefighters, liberals and conservatives, all of them hurt and angry."

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC provided an incisive and earnest report on Beverly's work, and the video clip, with footage of Beverly, contains high praise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

An article by Charity Vogel in the Buffalo News about some of the plane crash victims has this from Beverly's sister, Karen Eckert: "[Beverly] was an extremely intelligent, competent person. When she was faced with what she faced, and saw a reason to do something, she put her many talents toward that.... But she wanted balance in her life, too. She said 'Every day is precious.'"

The New York Times obituary by Sewell Chan adds a few details to his previous article about Beverly.

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