17 May 2011

Love, memory, history, and Beverly Eckert's video time capsule

Beverly Eckert's life after 9/11 centered on just a few core principles. First, she took great pains to keep the memory of Sean Rooney ("my beloved," she called him) alive in dozens of ways. Second, Beverly devoted years of her time, talent and treasure to making the United States safer than it was before September 11, 2001. After the lion's share of this 9/11 reform work was complete, she focused on a third area of action: serving others, by teaching, building, and promoting peace, cooperation and understanding. Finally, Beverly had a keen desire to leave behind an accurate record of her life with Sean, and her new life with only his memory. Her work with me on this book was the principle way she hoped to preserve this legacy.

Another way was to create historical records in other forms. I have already written about Beverly's detailed recording for StoryCorps, which provides a detailed and personal account of what she saw as the significant chapters of her life. Beverly also left behind a video record, a compilation of television footage dealing with her life with Sean, the attacks of 9/11, and her efforts along with other family members in the days, months and years that followed. She spent weeks collecting the footage and having it edited and recorded on three DVDs. I am in the midst of transcribing information from this source for use in the book.

Beverly gave copies of these DVDs to family and friends. This is the message she wrote to accompany this video compilation that meant so much to her:

January 29, 2005

I completed the enclosed compilation to commemorte Sean's birthday on February 15, 2005. Editing these stories was a difficult and time-consuming process but, as with everything I have done in my life since September 11th connected to Sean, it was a labor of love.

Although I dreaded reliving the events of that day and its aftermath, I wanted to ensure that the story of Sean's life, courageous death and the journey on which those events propelled me would be preserved.

Everything depicted by these stories, I did for Sean.


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