Remember the Youngest

Today’s column: Honor, remember the youngest 9/11 victims today


Bernard Curtis Brown II loved school more than most 11-year-old kids.

“He lived to go to school,” his mom told The New York Times. “If he was sick, he would always say he was feeling better so he could get to school.”

Twelve years ago, Bernard put on his new Air Jordan sneakers and boarded American Flight 77. He was just 11. Just a kid in his new Kicks excited about being selected for a National Geographic Society marine research project in Southern California.

Bernard’s plane crashed that morning into the Pentagon. Asia Cottom and Rodney Dickens, both 11, also died that day on American Flight 77. As did sisters Zoe, 8, and Dana Falkenberg, 3. Three other children boarded a different plane 12 years ago. Two-year-old Christine Lee Hanson, 3-year-old David Brandhorst-Gamboa and 4-year-old Juliana McCourt were on United Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Today, we tend to remember the flaming towers, the burning Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. We tend to remember the brave souls who tried to retake control of their plane. We tend to remember the first responders who ran into the flames and smoke.

We tend to forget Bernard, Asia, Rodney, Zoe, Dana, Christine, David and Juliana — the eight kids who died in the attacks.Let’s remember them today. We can do so by helping our local children in their honor.

Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library, which mails free books each month to kids from birth to the age of 5.

The first book an infant receives: “The Little Engine that Could.”Books open new worlds for children to explore. They transport kids to lands where terrorists don’t exist, where fears are overcome and where anything is possible. Books become teachers, travel companions and buddies.

Charlotte County has its own Imagination Library affiliate, which sends out about 600 books a month to local kids. Shawn Smith partnered with the Charlotte Players to bring the program to Charlotte County in January 2012. By the time a child turns 5, he/she will have received 60 books.

“The whole idea is for them to create their own library,” said Sherrie Moody, executive director of Charlotte Players.

The cost to pay for one year of books for one child is $25. To pay for the entire five years, it’s $125. Donations can be made at any Calusa National Bank in Charlotte County or to the Charlotte Players (make sure the check is written to Charlotte County Imagination Library).

“We’ve given out … a little over 9,000 free books,” Sherrie said.Imagination Library is delivering books to more than 650,000 kids around the country.

As 9/11 memorial services take place today and as flags wave at half-staff, let’s remember those eight kids. Let’s remember Bernard who loved going to school. In his honor today, let’s get books to our youngest residents so that they too may enjoy school as much as Bernard did.

Christy Feinberg is a senior writer for the Sun. She can be reached at

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