16 March 2009

Beverly's final trip to Washington: a persistent patriot asking for "justice, not vengeance"

When Beverly Eckert decided to do something, it got done. In my article for the History News Network about her visit with President Obama, this was one aspect of her character that I wanted to highlight: her persistence and focus. She was among a small group of 9/11 family members who closely followed how al-Qaeda suspects were being brought to justice (or not). And Beverly made sure that her voice was heard regarding, for example, the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, even at times when the Bush administration preferred to push aside critics of its policies.

Another quality Beverly had in abundance was patriotism. Not the blind, flag-waving sort, but the deep, committed and knowledgeable kind. For her, love of country meant not merely putting a bumper sticker on your car, but knowing the Constitution and demanding that it be upheld. It also meant being an active citizen. If nothing else, Beverly Eckert was the most active of citizens.

As she was waiting for her flight from Washington, Beverly basked in the afterglow of a successful meeting to which not only her 9/11 sisters-in-arms from past political battles were invited, but also family members who opposed President Obama's policies and plans. “Having a president who is willing to meet ordinary citizens like us,” said Eckert, “and make himself available for questioning even from those who were in opposition to his agenda made me very proud to be an American.”

Freedom. To speak, to debate, to disagree. That was the flag that Beverly was happy to wave, the flag of freedom.

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