On the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, Brian was aboard the United Airlines Flight 175, which had been hijacked before being crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Thousands of people died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and most of the victims were in the two towers of the World Trade Center. Julie Sweeney Roth's late husband, Brian, happened to be one of them. Although it's been nearly two decades since his tragic death, Julie still remembers the last message he sent her. The voice message would eventually play a huge role in encouraging her to embrace life despite her grief.
On the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, Brian was aboard the United Airlines Flight 175, which had been hijacked before being crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The 38-year-old former U.S. Navy pilot from Massachusetts, who was working for a Defense Department contractor, Brandes Associates, had left a powerful message on their "home answering machine that the plane had been hijacked," according to the 9/11 Commission report.
Your breath is checked, for a second, reading this. pic.twitter.com/jSgt335PoS— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) September 11, 2017
He also called his mother, Lousie Sweeney, and gave her the terrible news before sharing that "the passengers were thinking about storming the cockpit to take control of the plane away from the hijackers." Immediately after receiving the call, the terror-stricken mother turned on the television only to see that the second aircraft had hit the World Trade Center. All she had left was her son's last message, which she decided to keep to herself.
As for Julie, she decided to share the message he had left for her with the world, hoping that it would serve as a reminder of the horror that had gripped America. Indeed, the message still remains of the most powerful remnants of the frightening day. Per Bustle, his message was shared with the public a year after his death and the message is now displayed in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
"Hey Jules, this is Brian," began the voicemail he sent Julie. "I'm on an airplane that has been hijacked...if things don't go well, and they're not looking good, I want you to know that I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, have good times, same with my parents. I'll see you when you get here. I want you to know that I totally love you. Bye, babe, hope I will call you." PEOPLE reports that the call was made just three minutes before the plane hit the World Trade Center.
This message has become a lasting gift for his wife who couldn't believe that her husband was going to die that day. "I was lucky Brian called and spoke to me on that message," she told PEOPLE back in 2018. "He told me what he believed and I grasped onto that with all I had, and I’ve embraced life — I am living it as I know he would want me to do." Julie believes that her husband wouldn't have called and left that message unless he thought he wouldn't be making it out alive.
"The priority to him in those moments were to let his loved ones know that he loved us and that it was okay to move forward and do what we needed to do," continued the woman who lives in New Jersey. "Though he believed he would see us again, he wanted us to know it was all going to be okay no matter how it turned out." Following Brian's death, Julie did remarry, but she says Brian will always remain in her heart. She remembers him as "Tom Cruise but with a Goose personality."
Literally sobbing watching this. Every year since 9/11 2001, I have posted the text of Brian Sweeney’s voicemail to his wife. I posted it again today, 10 hours ago. But THIS was the first time I ever heard his brave & steady voice reciting the words. 💔 https://t.co/MGj386GocK— Christine Kirk 😷😷😷 (@LuxuryPRGal) September 12, 2019
"He had the confidence of Tom Cruise but he had this personality that you just wanted to hug him and love him. He was just that kind of guy," recalled Julie who has since been volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Museum. "There are still times when I cry and I listen to his message. It’s still a part of me and there’s probably still a lot of healing I have to do," she added. "Moving forward does not mean you have forgotten your past. I don’t use the word closure, I don’t believe in it, people throw it out there all the time. You don’t ever close the door to something like this. It’s one day at a time. That’s all this life is, one second at a time."
Cover image source: YouTube Screenshot | 9/11 Memorial & Museum