Statement By: Jodi Westbrook Flowers
Americans are not strangers to difficult times, but our Country always unites in ways we often imagine were not possible. With each passing year, it grows increasingly important that we share our memories, pay our respects, and remind ourselves of the magnitude of the worst attack on American soil: September 11, 2001. It is our duty to reflect upon and remember the stories of the heroes that day: the rescue workers who rushed to the scene, those who live with the tragic memory of the day on a daily basis, and the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and loved ones who never made it home.
Over the past 17 years, we have heard countless stories of the brave people we lost and the courageous survivors who came together to rebuild, to mourn, and to try to heal. One hero from that day who sadly isn’t able to tell his story is Tom Burnett. Thirty-eight year old, California resident, husband and father to four daughters, Tom was on Flight 93 traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco, Calif., on September 11, 2001. Upon realizing the plane had been hijacked, Tom called his wife, Deena, twice explaining the situation. She was able to tell him what she was seeing on the news and that the hijackers were on a suicide mission. She could hear Tom tell other passengers. At the end of the last call with Deena he told her, “we’re going to do something.” Deena later learned that Tom and several other passengers stormed the cockpit, foiling the hijackers’ plans to crash the plane into the White House or the Capitol Building. Tom Burnett and other Flight 93 passengers’ selflessness and courage saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of others on September 11, 2001. We will never forget those heroic passengers and how their heroism brought us together that day.
Toxic exposure at ground zero
We also continue to hear from the brave rescue workers, firefighters and policemen, aid workers, doctors and nurses, teachers and students – people from all walks of life – who rushed to help or to donate blood. We hear from clean-up workers and residents who are just now developing health conditions from their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero after the attack. From acid reflux and COPD to many types of cancers, these conditions have been linked back to exposures at Ground Zero and the surrounding area as well as the crash sites at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. The Los Angeles Times recently reported on this.
Lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
At Motley Rice, we continue the case we initiated in 2002 for the Burnett family and the thousands of other family members and injured victims under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The plaintiffs – also from all walks of life – have the common goal of truth, justice, and accountability for 9/11. Their steadfast support has and will cast a shining light on what happened 17 years ago, yet another example of Americans pulling together. Without our brave clients, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) would not be law today. In March of 2018, the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York denied the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s renewed motion to dismiss, allowing us to move forward to demand that Saudi Arabia produce information in discovery proceedings overseen by the Court.. We anticipate that the discovery proceedings will reveal more information about Saudi Arabia’s alleged role and involvement with the hijackers , including documents recently produced by the Kingdom during discovery. Saudi Arabia has steadfastly sought to keep these and all of its documents from public disclosure, the 9/11 Families have argued that the public has a right to the truth.
Today, we can join together to honor and remember and share the stories of these brave heroes. In Charleston, S.C., we support and volunteer in the 9/11 Silent Walk, which takes place across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. It’s estimated that more than 2,000 first responders and their families walk in remembrance each year.
Today is a day to put aside our differences and stop to reflect and honor the loss and sacrifices of so many as we remember those killed or injured on that horrific day and in its wake.