9/11 Youngest Pentagon Victims Untold Stories of Heartbreak
9/11 will always remain a day that no American who lived through it will ever forget. The memories still haunt many of us so many years later. As we approach the sad 15 year anniversary of the day America changed forever, it is important that we remember this tragedy's smallest victims.
Today, I will tell the story of the five amazing little lives that were cut short far too soon. These little Pentagon victims became the faces of history and their deaths have served as a reminder of the enemy we must defeat. We owe it to them to accomplish this goal. Now lets begin our journey back in time.
Dana and Zoe Falkenberg was two of 64 passengers on American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. They were accompanied on this ill fated plane by their parents Frank and Leslie Falkenberg. Their father was a former NASA engineer and their mother Leslie worked as a university economics professor. The family traveling to Australia on vacation after missing an earlier flight boarded hijacked flight 77 bound for Los Angeles. They would never reached their destination.
Dana Falkenberg (age 3) has been described as a beautiful, funny and playful child who loved life. Her parents called her their little miracle. Her sister Zoe Falkenberg ( age 8) was a stand out student at University Park elementary school. She loved ballet and was very active in her girl's scout activities as well as her swim team. Teachers, friends and family remember little Zoe as a kind and sweet child who once played a leading role in her school play "The King and I."
It is unclear if any of their remains where found after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Both children are deeply missed by all of us who loved them and a country who will never forget their names or faces.
These three children came from very rough communities in the District of Columbia but the youngsters were able to turn their unfortunate circumstances into a drive for success and excellence. The trip that they were to embark on was supposed to be one of a lifetime. After excelling in their school science fair, they were specially selected by a top National Geographic scouting team to participate in a Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary project off the coast of California.
The children were accompanied by members of the local National Geographic team program as well as teachers and staff from the three different elementary schools the students attended and represented. They would never reach their destination.
Asia Cottom (age 11) was described as a kind and gentle child who loved math and science. Her dream was to one day become a pediatrician because of her love for helping others. Rodney Dickens (age11) was also described as excellent student who would often help his fellow classmates with their home work whenever he was available. He is greatly missed by teachers, family, friends and this nation who will never forget his name or face. Bernard Brown also eleven years old was described by fellow students, family members and teachers as a stand out student with a keen sense of humor. He was very popular among his young female classmates who adored him for his striking features and great basketball skills. Little Bernard had dreams of one day becoming a scientist. He also loved to play sports with his dad who worked at the Pentagon as a Navy Chief Petty Officer. Bernard Brown Sr. luckily was not at work on 9/11.
The Navy Chief Petty Officer had urged his only son against his wife Sinita Brown wishes to take the trip on 9/11. He knew how much his son wanted to attend the science retreat but was frightened because he had never traveled on a plane before. He advised his son and convinced his wife that things would work out just fine.
Bernard Sr. has since appeared on various television programs over the many years after his only child's death. He has described his experiences as extremely painful and unbearable at times. His wife has made just one local televised appearance shortly after her son's death nearly 13 years ago. I remember watching that appearance. It was the hardest thing for me to get out of my mind in the days after 9/11. I had never seen anyone in so much pain in my life. Her eyes were a blood colored red from excessive crying spells she had suffered in the days following Bernard's death. I remember her describing how much she didn't want her son to go but was unable to punish her child for her own selfish fears of losing him. She also talked about how proud he had made her with all of his academic achievements. As she spoke, her voice became more and more of a whisper. I could see the agony in her face as she began to talk about his funeral and the medical examiner personnel who were on scene that day. She stated that they informed her that the only thing which was left of her son was his two fingers and a small piece of the new black shoes which she had bought for him just days before 9/11. It was the most heartbreaking thing that I had ever watched. I cried for days after seeing her speak on local television.
Bernard parents are no longer together but their son's memory still remains close to their hearts and ours. We will never forget little Bernard Brown. May he and the rest of the little angels in this article rest in eternal loving peace and may God bless all those lost on 9/11.