As the 9/11 commission grilled witness after witness this week, Mary Fetchett sat spellbound, hanging on every word. Fetchet lost her son on 9/11. She has devoted much of her life since then, pressuring the government for answers.
"About 3,000 American citizens were murdered within our borders. We need to know systemically the truth about the government failures across the board that made us so vulnerable," she said.
The 9/11 commission was formed after Fetchet and other victims' families insisted on a sweeping investigation aimed at discovering whether something could have been done to prevent the attack.
It is still very painful for Fetchet to relive that day.
Her oldest son, Brad, was an equity trader working on the 89th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when the planes hit. He was only 24.
Fetchet said she didn't learn a lot from the hearings this week, but she did finally get an apology.
"It is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11," Richard Clarke said during his testimony. Clarke, an ABCNEWS consultant, served as the counterterrorism adviser to the past three American presidents.
"I think it was the first time that someone has apologized," Fetchet said. "I'm very hopeful that he was wiling to share his objective opinion over the course of many administrations on what the failures were."
Mother Turned Activist
Fetchet described two distinct chapters of her life. The first — as wife, mother of three, and social worker ended on Sept. 10, 2001. The second, as political activist, began the next day.
"I didn't understand the political system," she said. "I have been thrust into this role. The learning curve is beyond what I can even imagine."
Shortly after the attacks, Fetchet formed a support group in her New Canaan, Conn., home where others could share their grief and find out what assistance was available.
Fetchet pushed hard for an official investigation. She worked 15-hour days, seven days a week lobbying local politicians, senators in Washington, even the president himself. It paid off.
"I can't live with the fact that people in charge are telling me, assuring me that this is going to happen again," she said. "It is our moral obligation to be sure that our government is doing everything they can to make sure this is a safer country, so that no one is walking in my shoes."
She is still pushing for answers.
This week, she and her group walked out in protest after the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, refused to testify in public, sending the deputy secretary of state instead.
"We have to be truthful. We have to provide all necessary information, and no one should be able to hide behind the cloak of executive privilege," said Fetchet.
While the hearings this week are finished, Mary Fetchet's job is far from over. She wants answers, and she said she won't rest until she gets them.
"I'm not in awe of anyone," she said. "I'm not intimidated by anyone. I feel it's imperative to have answers on what led to Sept. 11."
For more information on Mary Fetchet's organization, visit www.voicesofsept11.org.