Just before Brian Sweeney's plane slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, he left a heartbreaking final voicemail for his wife.
Brian Sweeney, a 38-year-old defense contractor from Massachusetts, was one of the 56 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 — one of the two planes hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
When the plane made a sudden, unexpected turn just half an hour into its flight from Boston to Los Angeles, the passengers on board had no way of knowing that they would be a part of one of the most tragic events in American history. All they knew was that their plane had been hijacked, and they feared the worst.
Knowing it might be the last thing he’d ever do, Brian Sweeney called his wife Julie from the plane — but she was at work and couldn’t answer her phone. In those last few moments before his death, Sweeney left her one final, heartbreaking voicemail. She didn’t hear his message until she got home, hours after she’d already learned of her husband’s fate.
A year later, she released his voicemail to the public, hoping it could help other families in their grief. To this day, Brian Sweeney’s words remain a haunting reminder of the nearly 3,000 victims that perished on 9/11.
Looking back, Julie Sweeney Roth — who has since remarried — said she’s thankful for that message. In an interview with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, she said, “You hold out this hope, especially for someone like Brian, who — this is a silly way to put it — was a warrior, and you just didn’t believe that something like this could take him away.”
For her, there was some relief in knowing what her husband had been thinking in his final moments. His voice had been calm, almost soothing, even in the face of death.
That’s why, in 2002, she shared his message with the public, in the hopes that it might be able to help other grieving families heal. It’s been more than 20 years since 9/11, but many of the messages that victims like Brian Sweeney left for their loved ones have lived on and been heard by countless people — as they likely will be for generations to come.
Discover the full story of Brian Sweeney and his tragic death on 9/11.