THE parents of a victim of the September 11 attacks have said they fear innocent lives will continue to be lost to terrorists.
Robert Eaton, of Ditchling, was working on the 105th floor of the World Trade Centre in New York when the now notorious American Airlines flight 11 hit in 2001.
Speaking to The Argus ahead of the 15th anniversary on Sunday, the 37-year-old broker's parents Laura and Doug Eaton said they relived their own grief every time they heard about an attack and fear we will never see a world free from terrorism.
Laura said: "It just keeps getting worse and worse.
"It is awful.
"I don't know what can be done.
"They keep building these enormous buildings, but what else are they going to do. It's scary."
Doug said his family would have felt justice had been better served if Osama Bin Laden had been brought before a court.
"It's just killing for killing," he added.
For now he has to deal with his only son's death as part of history.
On Sunday the Eatons, who still live in Shirleys, Ditchling, will join the families of the other 66 British victims at a memorial service in Grosvenor Square, London. They hope for some solace during the worst time of their year.
Laura said: "I can't believe it has been 15 years. Every year we have gone to London for the anniversary.
"You go through your normal day then all of a sudden you get a flashback of him, when he was a little boy or when we used to go to New York to visit him and he always wanted to make sure he showed us the best places.
"We do still miss him.
"We have always included him over the years. He may not have been physically here but he has always been there when we have done anything as a family."
The couple will lay a white rose for their son in the memorial garden before joining the minute's silence.
She added: "He was our youngest and we all miss him an awful lot."
During the terrorist attack 2,973 people were killed - 67 of them British - when two passenger jets hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists struck the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York while one hit the Pentagon outside Washington. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
Those killed also included Karlie Rogers, 25, a Sussex University graduate, who worked for Risk Waters publishers and Geoffrey Thomas Campbell, 31, a Reuters employee from Northampton whose brother Matt lives in Hassocks.
A charity was set up in ardent Brighton and Hove Albion Fan Robert's memory.
In the 15 years since his death the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund has gone on to raise thousands of pounds and help children in Britain and Robert's adopted home of America to get involved in the sport.
Events include the Robert Eaton Memorial match held between fans of the Seagulls and rivals Crystal Palace.
AFTER 15 YEARS YOU HAVE TO LIVE EACH DAY AS IT COMES
LAURA Eaton’s eyes prickle with tears as she remembers the “ethereal” voice of her choirboy son.
The St Paul’s chorister had a “beautiful and very unusual” voice but 15 years after Robert Eaton’s death his mother still remembers the cheeky little boy with the voice of an angel.
“At nine it was clear he had this voice and he auditioned for St Paul’s,” said Laura from the family home in Ditchling where they still live.
“He once got in terrible trouble because someone scribbled on one of the pianos at St Paul’s.
“They had written ‘Brighton and Hove Albion’ on the piano, so they immediately knew it was him.”
Despite moving to America as a young adult working as a broker, he never lost his love for the Seagulls.
He would call his dad after each game having watched them on the internet – sometimes he knew the score even before his father just a few miles down the road from Withdean. When he returned home he would go to games with Doug and was well known among the community of fans on Albion forum North Stand Chat.
The former Balfour School and Brighton College student had moved to New York with his job in the 1990s, meeting and marrying his wife Jacqui out there.
He had been sent to work in Germany by his firm Cantor Fitzgerald and only returned to his Long Island home a couple of months before the attack.
“That was very sad,” Mrs Eaton said.
“He nearly missed his train that day. His friend saw him running at the station.”
The Eatons cannot bear to dwell on the endless possibilities and missed opportunities that could have changed the course of events.
The couple had come home from their holiday early. They had spoken to Robert on the phone a couple of days before. In his typical style, his only concerns were making sure they were OK.
Doug was mowing the lawn when Laura saw footage of American Airlines Flight 11 hitting the North Tower.
“I called Doug in. I thought ‘Well Robert isn’t there. He’s not in that building. But he had changed buildings.
“Doug came in and said he wouldn’t be in that tower but in actual fact he was on the 105th floor.
“It was terrible. In New York people were going round in a mess.
“We couldn’t get through to Jacqui. In the end Jacqui’s mother rang and said Jacqui was in a state and had gone out looking for him.
“People just went out to look for others. It was an absolute nightmare.”
Robert also left behind three older sisters – Angela, Barbara and Judy.
“We went to church the next day and the girls came and we all grieved together,” Jacqui said.
“From then on we just had to live each day as it came until we knew what they were going to do. If something comes on the TV as it will at this time of year, I have to look at it. You can’t avoid it.
“He is gone and that’s it. We have to accept that. After 15 years you have to live each day as it comes.”
Doug adds: “I feel it’s history now.”
The last picture taken of Robert shows him fishing near his Long Island home. He looks the picture of a calm, happy man.
His mother said he loved to fish and as a teenager he came home from St Paul’s to go fishing at Brighton Marina.
“He caught a whole bucket of mackerel,” laughed Laura, remembering her son the joker. “Then he tried to take them to the fishmongers but they wouldn’t take them off him so he came home with this huge bucket of mackerel for me to deal with.”
Despite his cheeky side the couple know merchant banker Robert would have gone on to be a huge success.
“You can’t ever know exactly what they might have gone on to do but we know he would have been successful,” Laura said.
The Eatons initially thought he would harness his musical talent but he was determined that despite his talent he would take a different career path – at one point deciding to be a farmer instead.
“He was just a natural voice,” said former singing teacher Laura. “He sang from the inside. He had a very unusual voice that I will always remember his voice.
“I think of him in all different ways. He always wanted to do the best for us. I think he wanted to give us back some of what we had given him.
“He said at his wedding he wanted to repay us for what we had done for him.
He wasn’t always an angel. He could be a bit of a naughty boy. But he was kind and giving.”
The couple have visited the memorial in New York – where Robert’s name is engraved along with those of the 2,996 who died. The Eatons said they found the experience of visiting the museum “too sad”.
They left a red rose on his name and one of Robert’s football community friends also visiting the memorial saw it.
The couple are so proud that so many children have benefited from the charity set up in his memory. “It is exactly what he would have wanted,” said Laura. “He wanted to help others. He loved children.
“Whenever Children in Need or those things came on TV when he was visiting he would be straight on the phone ringing up to give them something. That’s what he did.
“We are so grateful to the charity for all the fantastic work they do and making something good come out of this.”
MEMORIAL FUND NOW A FIXTURE
AVID Seagulls fan Robert Eaton was a popular figure among the contributors on Brighton and Hove Albion fans’ forum North Stand Chat.
As the drama unfolded, his friends in the online community started to become aware that the commenter who posted under the username Ricky Marlowe’s Hairpiece had been killed.
His death hit home with Seagulls fans everywhere and friends and fellow supporters were determined the popular Albion fan would not be forgotten.
The Robert Eaton Memorial Fund (REMF) was formed with the idea of holding an annual charity football match between Seagulls and Crystal Palace fans to help fund a junior football club in Queens, New York. Since that initial match, the REMF football challenge has become a popular annual fixture.
The charity has raised tens of thousands of pounds for young footballers, crossed footballing rivalries and has established itself as one of the most positive aspects of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Founder chairman Gareth Glover said: “The REMF has become a real success story and shows just what can be achieved by football fans when rivalries are put to one side.
“More than 500 children from New York, Africa, South Africa, Croydon and Sussex have been given the opportunity to play football in memory of Robert.
“Everyone involved is determined to continue to support worthy causes in the local area and beyond.
“What better way to honour Robert’s memory?”