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Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families
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Family members spent the fourth anniversary of the crash of Flight 3407 in Washington D.C., speaking with legislators and urging them to push the FAA to implement airline safety requirements. But in the evening, they took time from pushing their agenda to remember their loved ones lost. YNN's Katie Morse was with them as they held a remembrance service in the Capitol building.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Family members wiped their eyes as the list of their loved ones was read out loud.

They spent the day tirelessly fighting - but the evening ceremony was a time to remember, and a time to reflect.

One by one, they laid roses out for those who died - comforting one another along the way.

Fifty red roses were placed on the table.

The parents of Jennifer Neill, who lost their 34-year-old daughter, seven months pregnant at the time, laid the single white rose among the red.

"It represented our grandchild, baby boy. We've managed through our faith to manage our grief in a very strong way. We cry, we laugh, we remember our dear daughter," said James Neill, Jennifer's father.

"I know the families are very frustrated with the slow pace of progress, but I will tell you that we have seen amazing change because of the work that they've done, and in fact what we're seeing is actually faster than what we see in many other areas," said Debbie Hersman, NTSB Chairman.

The National Transportation Safety Board made 25 recommendations following their investigation into the crash. They're still waiting for 22 of those recommendations to be completed, but she says - as frustrating as it can be - it sometimes does take years for those to be put in place.

WATCH: 3407 vigil held Tuesday night in Clarence Center

CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families
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They came together on the anniversary of the crash - to split up, and cover some ground.

"Begin on Floor number 2. From Floor number 2, go to Floor 3…"

Flight 3407 family members met at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C then, went door to door – in groups, or by themselves - to get their message to as many Congressional representatives as possible.

"We're going to have a ton of meetings with staffers from members that are on the aviation subcommittee, that hopefully over the next two years with this Congress will hopefully be the people that we'll be engaging to keep pressure on the FAA to see through some of these regulations," said Kevin Kuwik, crash victim's boyfriend.

Laura Voigt lost her sister Elly Kausner in the crash.

"If our pilot had been trained, my sister would be here, and so would the other 50 people that were lost."

She, like the other family members, is prepared to go the distance, and talk to as many people as possible, to make sure her sister's memory lives on in airline legislation.

"This is how our democracy works. It's a very on-the-ground, face-to-face democracy, and the people who make themselves known are the people who make the changes," Voigt said.

Working with the families to make those changes has been Senator Chuck Schumer. He, and other members of Congress, were by their sides meeting with reporters Tuesday, promising continued support to make sure the Federal Aviation Administration implements, and enforces, the pilot safety regulations passed a year and a half ago.

"They've assured us that they're on track to meet both the August deadline for pilot certification, and the October deadline for crew member training," said Schumer, (D).

The families say, they' re not giving up no matter what. If it takes talking to every person in our nation's capital, they'll do it to make sure passengers stay safe in the sky.

"I let them know who I am, I let them know who I'm with. I let them know who my sister was, and try to, as best I can, give them an idea of what was lost. Even though - there's really no way to let them know what we really lost, and how changed our lives are," said Voigt.

It was an emotional day for the families, who say they're fueled by that emotion, and they're going to continue their mission until the skies are safe.

CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families
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Western New York Congressman Chris Collins was noticeably emotional after meeting with those who lost loved ones four years ago. Collins was the Erie County Executive when Flight 3407 crashed.

"I am overwhelmed right now because I remember that night like it was yesterday," he said.

Collins was critical of the FAA for missing deadlines to implement new pilot safety regulations enacted by Congress after the crash. Collins challenged the idea that the FAA would meet a new deadline.

"I'm sorry Senator Schumer, To say that they meet the deadline? They've missed the deadline again, and again. That is unacceptable. Words are unacceptable," said Rep. Collins, (R).

"It is certainly good news that they've reported that they will meet their deadlines but if they don't they will be hearing from us. We're all in this together," Schumer said.

Collins called the fight the airline industry has put up against new safety regulations as "unconscionable."

Collins' remarks begin about 15 minutes into the Extended Video of the press conference, which you can watch above.

CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families
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The families of 3407 victims held a press conference Tuesday, and by their side were Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, and Congressmen Tom Reed and Chris Collins.

Their message was simple: make the FAA implement the pilot safety regulations that were already passed back in August of 2010.

The administration has missed deadlines over and over, and the families are here on the fourth anniversary because they want to make sure a deadline is never missed again.

There are two major rules the FAA needs to implement: require pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight time training, and enhance their training to make sure it includes things like flight simulators. Both are designed to make passengers safe.

First rule has a deadline of August; the second, a deadline of October.

Schumer said those rules were put in place to make sure the victims of the crash didn't die in vain, and that their families' efforts make a change.

"I'm sure every night when they go to sleep, they're remembering what happened, and compounding it, again, unfortunately in a metaphor like 9-11, it... it didn't have to happen," Schumer said.

CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Crash victims remembered at Capitol, capping emotional day for 3407 families
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It's expected to be a packed day for family members of Flight 3407 victims. They're in Washington, D.C. and will be working from dawn until dusk, speaking with lawmakers and talking to the press, pushing for those increased safety requirements.

It's not easy for many family members who lost a loved one in the crash to go to the airport, and get on a plane, but more than 50 of them are doing it for the four-year anniversary.

"We have nothing to benefit," said John Kausner, the father of one of the victims. "We all lost our loved ones. We could go home and be quiet and disengage. This really is something that, going forward, is going to affect the entire flying public."

They'll be going door to door on Capitol Hill, talking to as many Congressional representatives as they can - trying to make an impression.

"We're splitting up in groups and we're going to hit the Senate and the House, and just walk all day to every office and hand out fliers with pictures of our loved ones on them so that they can put a face to the name," said Jennifer West, wife of one of the victims.

"Our job is to continue to put a face to this legislation. It's not just dollars and cents. It's not just bureaucracy. It's people that are at stake," said Chris Kausner, a brother of one of the victims.

The families hope members of Congress will then push the FAA to start implementing the safety regulations that were passed two and a half years ago. They say they chose now to make the trip to DC to make their point.

"In our conversations we said we want to go down there on the fourth anniversary," said John Kausner. "Don't make us come here on the fifth anniversary. We want this done this year."

The fliers family members will be passing out read "One Level of Safety" – "Hold the FAA Accountable" – "Complacency is the Enemy."

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