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September 18, 2006

Flight 93 widow returns to ULM Sept. 29

Deena Burnett’s life has come full circle. On Sept. 29 at ULM’s College of Business Symposium, Deena, a 1985 graduate, will return to ULM to share the story of her husband and the inspiration left by his actions on Sept. 11, 2001, aboard United Airlines Flight 93.

Deena will speak at 11 a.m. in Brown Auditorium. “I hope to leave a lasting impression of the events of September 11 in the minds of people who perhaps didn't know anyone impacted by a death that day. I'll share my story and use the actions of the passengers of Flight 93 as an example to show how each of us are called to be heroes.”

The theme of this year’s symposium is “Responsible Citizenship,” something that Tom exemplifies. “My husband Tom always believed the greatest aspiration we could have was to be a 'good citizen,'” she said.

Tom helped storm the hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93, and ultimately kept the plane from striking its apparent target of either the White House or the Capitol. The plane crashed in a remote field in Shanksville, Pa.

Deena wanted her three young daughters Halley, Madison, and Anna Clare to understand who their dad was, how he lived his life and the reason behind his actions on Sept. 11, 2001. To do that, she co-authored “Fighting Back: Living Life Beyond Ourselves” with Anthony Giombetti. In “Fighting Back,” Deena tells the story of how she fought back to find purpose and joy in her life after her husband was killed.

In her book, Deena cites the actions of Flight 93 passengers and the experiences in her own life as examples to re-define the concept of heroism and to demonstrate the power of everyday heroes who do the right thing at the right time, no matter how big or small.

“I hope readers learn that each of us have the opportunity to make a difference. At times making a difference will mean giving a hug or providing a meal, other times it will mean standing up for what you believe and persevering until change comes.”

Deena also founded The Tom Burnett Family Foundation, which provides curriculum-based programs on citizenship, leadership, and community for young people and educators. For more information about the foundation visit:

She looks forward to her upcoming talk, which is free and open to the general public. "My life has definitely come full circle...visiting ULM will close the gap."

More about Deena:

Deena successfully spearheaded an effort to have the Flight 93 cockpit voice recording released in April 2002. She is currently the lead plaintiff in an unprecedented lawsuit to bankrupt terrorist organizations. Twice, she served as a witness in the criminal trials of Al Qaeda members in Europe. In addition to volunteering in her church and community, Deena serves on the boards of the Tom Burnett Family Foundation, Ballet Arkansas, The Twentieth Century Club, and the Families Against the Funding of Terrorism. She is also a speaker for the Young America’s Foundation and travels around the country speaking to civic organizations and universities. She resides in Little Rock, Ark. with her daughters, her new husband, Rodney, and his son Tanner.

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