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Activists Among Crash Victims

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Fifty people died in the crash, including a cantor, a former hockey player, a doctor, musicians and two women, both activists whom we have featured on our air. Beverly Eckert lost her husband in the World Trade Center on September 11th. With other determined widows and family members, she pushed the government to action, to create the 9/11 commission. Eckert shared with our listeners her husband's last two voicemails, recorded after the first tower was struck. He was in the second tower.

Unidentified Female: 8:59 a.m.

Mr. SEAN ROONEY: Hey Beverly, this is Sean. In case you get this message, there's been an explosion in World Trade One, that's the other building. It looks like a plane struck it on fire at about the 90th floor and it's, it's - it's horrible. Bye.

Unidentified Female: Received September 11th at 9:02 a.m.

Mr. ROONEY: Hi honey, this is Sean again. Looks like we - this tower for a while. It's secure here. I'll talk to you later, bye.

BLOCK: Beverly Eckert, who lived in Stamford, Connecticut, served on the 9/11 commission's family steering committee. She described once getting the runaround on Capitol Hill, which she said would not do.

Ms. BEVERLEY ECKERT (Family Steering Committee, 9/11 Commission): We walked into somebody's conference room, and we just commandeered it. It was empty and we, you know, decided a new strategy. We're going to call a meeting, we're going to have them come to our meeting and including people, you know, the representatives from the White House. We said, we want final draft so this can go and be voted on. And we got it. So it's - sometimes it's advantageous if you don't know how the game is played.

BLOCK: Also among those killed in the plane crash was Alison Des Forges, a senior advisor to Human Rights Watch. She brought early attention to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. In 1997, she explained the need for justice.

Ms. ALISON DES FORGES (Senior Adviser, Human Rights Watch): It's not simply the obligation of the Rwandan government for this genocide because it was, in fact, such a massive violation of international human rights law. Our country, as all other countries, are obligated to bring to justice those people responsible.

BLOCK: Alison Des Forges, who lived in Buffalo, testified in 11 Rwanda genocide trials. Just two months ago, three men were found guilty. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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