The last words from our loved ones stay with us forever. For Julie Roth, a voicemail left by her first husband Brian David Sweeney, a passenger on hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, gave her the courage to move forward.
"I'm on an airplane that's been hijacked. If things don't go well, and it's not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you, I want you to do good, go have good times—same to my parents and everybody—and I just totally love you, and I'll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you."
Recalling the message, Roth says, “When I heard the voicemail, all I thought of was that it’s so Brian. He knew he wasn't coming home, and it was his final way of letting me know exactly what he wanted me to do. He wanted me to know that no matter what happened, he loved me, and he wanted me to be happy and to move forward and go ahead and have good times and do good things with my life.”
Sweeney was 38 when he died, and Roth was 29. They had been married for two years and had begun talking about having children together. To many, Sweeney embodied strength and courage. He was a former United States Navy pilot, a veteran of the Gulf War, and as Roth says, “invincible in my eyes and everybody else that knew him.”
Despite often being described as a “warrior,” Sweeney was also “the kind of person you wanted to hug,” maintains Roth. In his final message to her, he showed his capacity to comfort and reassure those he cared about.
“I embraced his message with all that I had, and I am living life as I know he would want me to do,” Roth says.
Remarried and the mother of two sons, she understands the importance of moving forward while honoring the past and those we have lost.
“Brian's words definitely gave me the courage to move forward, but it doesn’t mean we can forget our past. It’s what got us all here today. The memories will always be a part of us, and they continue to be a source of inspiration and solace for me and anybody that experienced loss on that day.”
By 9/11 Memorial Staff