The plan, before all of this, was to arrange a trip to Buffalo with Beverly, and she would be my tour guide of the landscape of her life before moving off to Boston and New Jersey and Stamford. She was going to show me people and places from her life before September 11, 2001.
My tour of Buffalo this past weekend was shorter and sadder than the one I had earlier planned.
It was a city still in mourning for the 50 lives lost in the crash of Flight 3407. I checked in on Friday afternoon at the Lord Amherst Hotel, which sits on Main St. where it crosses Interstate 90, just a few miles from the airport. In this simple, but homey medium-sized lodging Beverly would stay when her relatives had no spare beds. I decided to drive down Main St., toward Clarence and the site of the crash.
At schools, offices and firehouses, flags flew at half mast. Sign boards contained messages of condolence to those lost. And along the road to Clarence Center, the each light post was tied with two plastic ribbons: one black, one white. The Zion Lutheran Church's sign had a message offering counseling services. The roads leading to the crash site were guarded by New York State Troopers, sitting in their vehicles, engine's idling to ward off the blustery cold. Only the cleanup crews could enter. Heavy digging vehicles filled dump truck after dump truck with soil and debris from the crash site. A Buffalo News article reported that all that was left once the crews were done was crushed stone to fill the crash crater. An officials said the site would be graded and seeded come spring. Karen Wielinksi, whose husband died when the plane came down on their house on Long Street, said that for now the site will remain vacant.
The Buffalo News article about the service noted that Beverly's brother-in-law, Bill Bourque, "also reflected on her relentless drive in the face of losing her husband."
“In the aftermath of Sept. 11," he said, "she gained access to the powerful and became well-known and well-respected. We knew she was not in it for herself. She was in it so that this should never happen to anyone again. Because of her, our nation became a safer place. She was one of the main reasons the powerful moved at all, because nothing is more powerful than the simple, clear truth.”