Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 - A Little Boy Gone

Updated September 11, 2016:  

Every September 11, I post this essay on Facebook and anywhere else that I can. It's not much. It's just my small contribution to ensuring that the events and victims of 9/11/2001 will never be lost to a hazy and muddled memory of airplanes and landmark buildings. That day was about the loss of precious human beings. 

I made a promise to myself and to the memory of this little boy that I would never forget him. He would be a young man now, if that day had turned it like it should.  I'll always wonder where his promising life could have taken him.

This is Rodney Dickens. 

Rodney was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. And his will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming across the TV screen in the hours after the terrorist attack, his little face gripped me. I remember standing in my bedroom, grabbing a pillow, clutching it to my chest and sitting down to stare at the TV. 

As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age, I couldn’t stop the barrage of thoughts running through my head. "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" 

My little boys had already flown alone as a pair several times.

My heart ached when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an unreasonable end. Did anyone put their arms around Rodney, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he call out for his mom and dad? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? 

Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I researched to find the name that belonged to this sweet little boy, I learned that Rodney was, indeed, traveling without his parents; he was with classmates. They were taking a school trip. It should have been a happy day. 

Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were defenseless in protecting their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. 

I have had nightmares about Rodney crying out for his mother in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this precious, innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my boys were on that plane. Regard for cherished human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those... I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people." In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in chills. My heart quakes again. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced, perfectly innocent and promising little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

And as long as I live, you will never be forgotten.


  1. Thank you for your beautiful posting. I would have wondered the same thing what happened to Rodney. I have experienced all of that and more when my youngest son was killed. Was he afraid, did he pray, cry, picture his then 7 week old son. I'm sure Rodney was frightened, confused, praying, all of that and more. I know his parents blamed themselves for not being there and not being able to save him as I have everyday. I know that Rodney was in the hands of the Lord and he took care of Rodney and all the other passengers on that plane that horrible day. Rodney is watching over his family and you. As time goes by you start to thank the Lord for the wonderful gift given to you and the true impact on your life.
    God Bless Rodney's family and you for having a beautiful heart and soul.

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind perspective.