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The death of bin Laden and the president's visit to New York City have brought back the painful memories of the 9/11 attacks that left more than 3,000 people dead.

Today, someone who made it her mission to talk about those memories. Beverly Eckert lost her husband, Sean Rooney, in the south tower of the World Trade Center. She remembered him for StoryCorps, a regular feature on this program.


StoryCorps is trying to record at least one interview for each person who died on 9/11. So far more than 1,000 stories have been collected. Beverly Eckert taped her StoryCorps tribute to Sean five years after he died.

Ms. BEVERLY ECKERT: Sean had warm brown eyes and dark curly hair and he was a good hugger. We met when we were only 16 at a high school dance. When he died, we were 50.

It was about 9:30 a.m. when he called and he told me he was on 105th floor, and he'd been trying to find a way out. And he told me that he, you know, he hadn't had any success and now the stairwell was full of smoke. I asked if it hurt for him to breathe and he paused for a moment, and then said no. He loved me enough to lie.

We stopped talking about escape routes and then we just began talking about all the happiness we shared during our lives together. I told him that I wanted to be there with him, but he said no, no, he wanted me to live a full life.

And as the smoke got thicker, he just kept whispering I love you over and over. I just wanted to crawl through the phone lines to him, to hold him, one last time.

Then I heard a sharp crack, followed by the sound of an avalanche. It was the building beginning to collapse. I called his name into the phone over and over. Then I just sat there pressing the phone to my heart.

I think about that last half-hour with Sean all the time. I remember how I didn't want that day to end, terrible as it was. I didn't want to go to sleep because as long as I was awake, it was still a day that I'd shared with Sean.

You know, and he kissed me goodbye before leaving for work. I could still say that was just a little while ago, that was only this morning. And I just think of myself as living life for both of us now. And I like to think that Sean would be proud of me.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Beverly Eckert remembering her husband Sean Rooney. He was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Beverly became an advocate for 9/11 families but she did not live to hear the news of Osama bin Laden's death. Beverly Eckert died in a plane crash two years ago. Her tribute, along with all the others, will be archived at the Library of Congress and at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

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