The Passengers Of Flight 3407


When Flight 3407 crashed on Thursday, it took the lives of 50 people with it. A reader wrote to ask us if we would consider writing about a few of the extraordinary women who died.

The tragedy of the crash has been overshadowed by comparisons to the “Miracle on the Hudson”; for a very brief moment, air travel became a thing of miracles and relief, where the best case scenario can, in fact, happen. That notion was quickly dispelled by the crash of Flight 3407, however, a sad reminder that tragedy does and can strike at any moment.

The New York Times has a very touching write-up of the flight, noting that “It was perhaps not the most glamorous of destinations, or the most luxurious of flights: a turboprop plane pushing through wind and snow and fog to an ailing Rust Belt city,” but “as in all such disasters, there were tales of bad luck and terrible coincidence, of great life stories and modest love affairs, of long-awaited reunions turned into rituals of grief.”

As our reader noted, “Every life lost in this tragedy is horrific but I was struck at the caliber of some of the women involved,” including Dr. Alison L. Des Forges, a human rights advocate who worked tirelessly to bring the world’s attention to the genocide taking place in Rwanda in 1994. She was given a MacArthur Genius grant and wrote the book: “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda”, which the Times notes is “considered the definitive account of the eventual slaughter of more than 500,000 Rwandans.”

Also aboard the flight was Beverly Eckert, a woman who had lost her husband on 9/11 and had since become an advocate for fellow 9/11 families. “Beverly lost her husband on 9/11 and became a tireless advocate for those families whose lives were forever changed on that September day,” President Obama noted in her memory, “And in keeping with that passionate commitment, she was on her way to Buffalo to mark what would have been her husband’s birthday and launch a scholarship in his memory. So she was an inspiration to me and to so many others, and I pray that her family finds peace and comfort in the hard days ahead.”

Though the sadness over the lives of these fifty people, especially to their families and friends, is hard to even imagine, a small source of light comes from the fact that their contributions to the world, everything from human rights to families rights to being a loving friend, community member, parent, or sibling, will leave a lasting impression on those whom they loved and fought for. Though the women profiled clearly had “extraordinary” lives, every life is extraordinary in its own way, and the fifty people lost in Thursday’s crash will leave behind many memories to those who loved them.

Fifty Varied Lives, Ended On A Cold, Foggy Night [NYTimes]
Alison Des Forges, 66, Human Rights Advocate, Dies [NYTimes]
Beverly Eckert, Leader of Families of 9/11 Victims, Dies at 57 [NYTimes]

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