The following interview was conducted last year on the anniversary of 9/11. We wanted to repost it in 2018 in honor of Mr. Burnett:
On the back patio of her Little Rock home Monday, Deena Burnett Bailey combed through family photos. It’s the 16th anniversary of a day that paints an unflattering picture.
“They have lived three-quarters of their lives without him,” Burnett Bailey says while looking at a picture of her late husband, Tom Burnett, with their daughters.
Tom was killed after United Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
“Hands down, I miss his wisdom the most,” Burnett Bailey says.
At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Burnett family lived in California. Their daughters were ages, 3, 5 and 5.
“They are exactly who he and I wanted them to be and would have raised them together to be,” Burnett Bailey says.
“Of course I wanted to make sure that they knew him as a person and not just remembered him as a Dad and certainly not just remember how he died on September 11th.”
Tom and Deena’s youngest daughter, Anna Clare, was 3 years old. She’s now a sophomore at Pepperdine; her father’s alma mater.
“I remember him teaching me how to fish,” Anna Clare says.
Anna clare Facetimed with us Monday morning, remembering the impact her dad had in their short time together.
“I would want him to know that I wouldn’t be who I am today, if it weren’t for him,” Anna Clare says.
“And that I think about him every day and that I hope he would be proud of me.”
Anna Clare’s sister. Halle, is also studying at Pepperdine. Her other sister, Madison, is enrolled at TCU. Their mom, Deena, credits prayers from strangers for helping them cope with loss year after year.
“Love. Faith. Joy. Prosperity,” Burnett Bailey says.”All of those things have shaped our life through those prayers and I think that that’s just the coolest thing to come out of 16 years of September 11th.”