On a clear September morning, New Yorkers were going about their business as usual on Tuesday when a plane suddenly crashed into the North Tower in New York City. World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.
Over the next two hours, three planes crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.
All over the world, people have turned on radios and televisions to watch the tragedy of unexpected terrorist attacks.
In the aftermath, a total of 2,996 people were found to have been killed on September 11th at the hands of the Islamist extremist group Al-Qaeda.
A nation mourned the lives lost and it is estimated that more than 3,000 children lost a parent on that day. However, there were also eight children on those tragic journeys who also lost their lives.
Children who, as President Bush said at the time, were “the most important person on earth for anyone.”
In different circumstances, these young people would all be adults now, perhaps even with their own families, had such atrocities not occurred in their short life.
Here, we remember the eight children who lost their lives on that fateful day 21 years ago.
Kristen Lee Hanson2
The youngest of the children killed, 2-year-old Christine of Grotto, Massachusetts, was described as a busy little girl who loves to go to the playground and help her father in the garden.
Her grandmother, Eunice Hanson, gave Christine a Peter Rabbit doll to commemorate her birth in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. Peter Rabbit and the red Teletubby went everywhere with a little girl.
Her parents, Peter and Sue Kim Hanson, left their home in Massachusetts to visit relatives in Los Angeles. After the visit, the family planned to visit Disneyland with their daughter on a fun trip.
However, on the morning of September 11, Peter made a frantic call to his father telling him, “Dad, I think they’re going to crash the plane.” At 9:03 a.m., their plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
In 2014, her grandparents donated cherished Kristen memorabilia to the September 11 Memorial Museum. On Peter Rabbit’s torso still two stickers of Winnie the Poo that the little girl had attached to her beloved toy. “She put stickers on everything she loves,” her grandmother, Eunice, remembered. “I think it was her sign of acceptance.”
In an interview with NBC last year, Eunice shared how Kristen was a “cute” and “bubbly” child.
“If I get in harm’s way, I’ve found a way to make everyone laugh,” she added.
Three-year-old David was a veggie-loving little kid who loved Lego and went to swimming lessons every week.
His father’s sister, Ronald, talked about how the “cute” little boy often chooses cherry tomatoes over cake and ice cream at a birthday party.
David’s parents, Daniel Brandhurst and Ronald Gamboa, have been together since 1987 and decided to grow their family 10 years later by adopting David, who called Ronald “Dad” and Daniel “Papa”. They lived together in Los Angeles.
Both men were said to enjoy parenthood, with a close friend saying the child is the “loving focus of their lives”. Family members mentioned that the couple were planning to adopt more children.
On September 11, David boarded Flight 175 at Logan Airport with his parents to return home to Los Angeles after visiting Cape Cod.
After the tragedy, a memorial plaque was added in the memory of the young boy at the West Hollywood stadium that David loved to go to with his father. Written on it are the words: “Five more minutes, Dad!” , to indicate how much the child enjoyed spending time there.
Even at just four years old, Juliana was so intelligent that she was nicknamed “Miss J” by those who knew her well.
Her grandmother, Paula, said that the little girl was “a nanny like her mother.”
The young woman, who lived in New London, Connecticut, boarded United Airlines Flight 175 with her mother, Ruth, who had made an elaborate plan to take Juliana to Disneyland for a fun vacation.
Ruth had planned to travel with her best friend, Paige Farley-Huckle, but Paige decided to take a different trip and instead, the pair made arrangements to meet in Los Angeles.
Paula said that with Ruth’s long, red hair and Juliana’s blonde locks, the stepfather and daughter looked “amazing” as they sat on the plane together.
Ron Clifford was Ruth’s brother and witnessed a plane crash in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He didn’t know at the time, but it was the plane his sister and niece were on.
While the little girl’s father – who wasn’t on the plane – told ABC News, ‘I’ll never be able to look at that kid again. This child will never in my life have been so beautiful. It’s a way of almost denying it, but it’s the only way I can handle it at this point.
In an even more tragic twist, the plane that Page decided to take was American Airlines Flight 11, which hit the North Tower shortly before Juliana and her mother died.
Bernard Brown II11
His mother, Bernard, described him as a young boy who “lived to go to school”.
It was an 11-year-old love of learning that saw him head off from his hometown of Washington, D.C. on an adventure to the Channel Islands Marine Preserve off the coast of California, with a group of teachers and other students.
Bernard is best known for his spelling, drawing, and “zeal” for living.
Bernard’s father, golfing that day and a senior Navy officer at the Pentagon, had spoken to his son about his fear of flying in preparation for his trip to California.
“Honestly, we talked about death,” Bernard Sr. told NBC. I just said to him, “Don’t be afraid. Just listen to what people tell you and to the instructions. You’ll be fine; you’ll be fine.” He said, “Dad, I’m afraid,” and I said, “Hey, don’t be afraid; don’t be afraid of death. Because we’re We will all die someday.”
Little did he know it would be one of the last conversations he would have with his beloved son, who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 AM.
Bernard’s mother, who is a basketball player, said he had just bought a pair of Air Jordan sneakers—shoes he had worn on that important trip.
Asia was on the same plane as Bernard Brown. It was a dream trip for a smiling 6th grader, passionate about learning. The 11-year-old had just started a new school, Bertie Backus Prep, in Northeast Washington.
Her father, Clifton Cottom, helped coach basketball, patrolled halls, and worked as a book clerk at the same school.
Clifton told a news outlet that his daughter was a “witch trying really hard to grow up,” and that she dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. She loved jumping rope and her mother, Michelle Cottom, remembers her daughter, who loved Tweety Gear.
School staff described Asya as a kind-hearted child who helped other students with learning difficulties. Neighbors remember how Asya greeted them when she was playing outside her house with her younger brother.
The day after the kidnapping, a teacher in Asia tried to talk to the class about what had happened: ‘We’re missing someone today. Do you know who it is?’ She asked. Some of the kids answered. They said ‘Yes.’ ‘Asia.’
He was the last of the three children selected to participate in the expedition to study the environment in California alongside National Geographic Society researchers, and accompanied Rodney Bernard and Asia on the trip of a lifetime. This was the first time he had traveled on an airplane.
One of Rodney’s classmates at Ketcham Elementary School remembered him as a kind kid who “loved Pokémon” and “helped others with their homework if they didn’t understand it”.
Although Rodney, who was 11 years old, grew up in a dangerous neighborhood of Washington alongside his two brothers and two sisters, he always commanded honors in school.
His mother, Lachon, was a single mother raising her children with the help of her extended family, and she encouraged her beloved son to always try to be a role model for his siblings.
Rodney loved reading, playing on the computer, and spending time with his brothers and sisters, but his aunt, Cynthia Dickens, said his favorite thing was watching pro wrestling on TV.
“I don’t care what he was doing,” Cynthia remembered, “he came home to see wrestling.”
Dana, 3, and Zoe Falkenberg8
Charles Falkenberg and his wife Leslie Whittington were on their way to Australia from their home in University Park, Maryland, with their two young daughters, Dana, three, and Zoe, eight, on the morning of September 11.
Leslie had been planning to work for a few months at the Australian National University in Canberra, and the family ended up on American Airlines Flight 77, having missed the connecting flight on a long-haul flight.
Dana is remembered as a playful, intense and charming little girl with curly rings. It was reported that her parents considered her a miracle.
Meanwhile, Zoe was one of the top students at University Park Elementary and was actively involved in Girl Scouts, ballet and swimming.
Like many children her age, she loved reading Harry Potter books and had planned a Beanie Baby party with her friend when she returned from the family’s trip abroad.
The girls sat next to their father on the plane, ready to begin the next phase of their adventure, but then at about 8:54 a.m., the flight veered off course, crashing into the Pentagon.
Two plush toys, a cuddly bear and a dinosaur, were placed at the 9/11 memorial to remember the lovable little sisters.
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