The Stolen Futures of September 11

It has been 16 years since the murderous attacks of September 11, 2001.  Few over the age of 25 can’t tell you exactly where they were and what they felt when they heard the tragic news.  For many, it still feels like it happened yesterday………….or today.

Please take the time to talk with young people about September 11th. If they are teenagers, or in their early twenties,  chances are they have no memory of it and need to be taught. Here are three stories you can share of young people who were robbed of the beauty of life that day, along with three thousand others:

Deora Bodley

Deora was a twenty year old student at Santa Clara University who loved to volunteer. She was active in the special olympics. She coordinated an after school tutoring program, and volunteered at an animal shelter. She was on her way to becoming a child psychologist, because she wanted to dedicate her life to helping the most troubled of children.
She was on United Flight 93, traveling from Newark to San Francisco.  She was returning home to California after visiting her friends in New Jersey.  Deora  was scheduled for a flight later that day, but she caught an early one because she was anxious to see her boyfriend.  She was the youngest person on the plane.  She died in a field in western Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the passengers and crew fighting back against the hijackers.

Richard Allen Pearlman

“Richie” Pearlman was 18 years old on September 11, 2001. He had served for four years as a volunteer for the the Forest Hills Ambulance Corps in pursuit of his dreams of becoming an E.M.T..  No matter what the weather he showed up to help everyday, despite having to catch two busses each way. His goal was to become an E.M.T., because he wanted to spend his life helping others.


He was working for a legal office as a courier on that morning, delivering a package about two blocks away from the World Trade Center. When he saw the first plane hit the building, he called his work to tell them what was happening. He said he was going to go help people get out. His boss told him not to go.

Richard went to the World Trade Center anyway, and helped many people escape, saving their lives. He kept going in again and again. There is a picture of him wheeling a bloody victim out of the tower which appeared in Newsweek Magazine.  The lady in the picture pleaded with him not to go back in.  He denied her wish, telling her he was going back in to save more people. The south Tower collapsed on Richard. He was the youngest victim on the ground at the World Trade Center.

Christine Lee Hansen

Christine was two and a half years old on September 11, 2001. She loved to plant trees and plants with her father. After she planted something she would care for it and say, “I bet you are thirsty, let me feed you and give you a big hug.”

4 Christine Lee Hanson wearing red overalls CROP

Christine was with her parents on United Airlines flight 175. They left Boston so that Christine could make her first trip to Disneyland. The family was going to meet Christine’s grandparents there.  Christine became the youngest victim of the day when the plane was crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.


Who knows what each of them would have been doing today? Richard and Deora would have probably been living a life full of giving, and caring for others.  It is impossible to know how many lives they would have made better.  Christine would have likely graduated from high school in June. Today she should be getting ready to go to college or pursuing  whatever other dreams might have guided her.

The lives of these three beautiful souls were unjustly taken far too early because a group of cowards had a problem with America and its government. We will never know the promise, potential, and positive impacts these 3000 lives would have had.  There is no way that this can ever be justified or make any sense.

Nothing we can do can ever bring these people back, or the 3000 others that were robbed of the precious gift of life that day. We can only honor them by keeping their spirits alive in each of us. We must continue living with joy, appreciation, and a care for others because they never got the chance to. We can only honor them by cherishing our own lives, and taking advantage of each day we are given.

Never forget, never fail to appreciate, and never back down. We owe at least that much to them.


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