The Falkenberg Family

The Falkenberg Family

The Falkenberg Family

Charles Falkenberg
Leslie Whittington (Falkenberg)
Zoe Falkenberg, aged 8
Dana Falkenberg, aged 3

Charles and Leslie boarded American Airlines Flight 77 with their two daughters, Zoe and Dana, en route to Canberra, Australia, for what family members said was a dream, working vacation. Leslie, who was an associate professor at Georgetown was going for a short stint as a visiting fellow at Australian National University at Canberra. She was bringing her family down under for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. They had just moved out of their home, in fact they spent their last few days before 9/11 in a hotel, and upon their return to the states, were moving into a new house in Chevy Chase.

Charles Falkenberg was a software engineer had spent six years designing software for oceanographers, ecosystem and space scientists. He had also worked with scientists researching the the long-term impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

It’s difficult to write about the lives of two children who were too young to have really begun to live them. I know that both girls had taken swimming lessons at the YMCA, and that they accompanied their mother to work often enough that her coworkers had fond memories of their visits, particularly of Zoe’s flamboyant outfits.

To help cope with the grief of losing an entire family, the girl’s grandparents have asked people who wish to remember the Falkenbergs, to plant Zinnias, Zoe’s favorite flower.

Two years ago, my family and I planted zinnias under an arch of jasmine. Each year they bloom stronger, larger, and more beautiful than before…

…like they’re growing…

…like two little girls should have.

15 thoughts on “The Falkenberg Family

  1. I had not realised that an entire family had perished in the attacks. There are so many people to read about and learn about. Thank you for such a lovely post.


  2. A whole family!
    Flight 77 was the pentagon right?
    I was watching a 9/11 show- can’t remember which one because I recorded them all and watched them with my son who is now 12 1/2 (who wanted to know everything.)
    There was a guy who found little girls stuff at the pentagon while looking for survivors… Makes me wonder if it was these girls and if the family ever got it?!
    Peace & Love, I will remember…


  3. I only got to know Leslie & Charles. I did hope some day I would have got to meet their children. I miss my cousin and her family and know they are looking down on us all everyday. God bless…


  4. I plant Zoe’s zinnias every year in honor of this wonderful family. This year heavy rains and a busy schedule got in the way and I didn’t plant my zinnias. However, a volunteer appeared next to my tomato plants. I have Zoe’s zinnias after all and just posted a photo on my FB page. We remember the Whittingtons and Falkenbergs.


  5. This summer my daughter Janna en I went for a city trip to New York. We live in The Netherlands. On the 5 th day we went to the Memorial Museum on Ground Zero. Janna was very impressed, she looked for girls that were born in the same year as she was, 1998. She found a little girl… Dana. “Look mum, it’s her birthday today! She said. It was july 25th. It was a very special and emotional moment. We send our special love to the grandparents and the whole family.


  6. Christmas 2017. I just returned from the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. I took notice of Dana’s bench at the memorial, as she was youngest of all. One bench in a neat row, with the marker of her year of birth, “1998”. Someone had recently left a vase of flowers and a little teddy bear that clutched the vase. It was quite windy and cold, and the vase and bear had blown over. I righted it several times, but the breeze laid the vase and bear on its side again. I was the only one there at first, but more people were arriving as I left. I’m glad there are people there to remember these souls on this day. Merry Christmas everybody.


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