Family, friends come together to honor 9/11 victim Asia Cottom

Parents release balloons for daughter lost in 9/11

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Fourteen years ago two planes crashed in the World Trade Center, then one crashed into the Pentagon, killing over 180 people.  

For one local family it's a day to remember the daughter they lost. 

The Cottom family lost their daughter on 911, and every year they mark the day by releasing balloons. Usually they do it in private, but Friday they wanted to share that moment with the world.

On September 11, 2001 Clifton Cottom took his 11-year-old daughter to the airport. She was headed to California. 

"That day I took her to the airport, her and her teacher," Clifton Cottom said. "She said, 'I'll see you when I get back."

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. 

"She did an essay for national geographic so she won a trip," he said.  

Asia Cottom never stepped off the plane. At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. No one on board survived.

Hours later the FBI knocked on the Cottom's door to tell them what they already knew. 

"You know how you just can feel something in your heart and it just takes the wind out of you?"  Clifton Cottom said. 

Asia left behind her mom, Michele, her dad and her older brother Isaiah.

Friday, they were surrounded by friends, standing together on the side of U Street. 

"You can't change your circumstances, but you can learn how to live in the circumstances that God gave you. So that's what we do," her mother, Michele said. 

They said a prayer and released 25 pink balloons, for the 14 years Asia Cottom never saw. 

Instead of tears Friday, there was laughter and countless smiles. 

"We don't want everyone to think we're going to be down for 911," Clifton Cottom said. "We doing something positive. We trying to turn this thing around. We just…I'm happy."

After Asia died the Cottoms received tons of letters and many of them were filled with money. They said they didn't know what to do with it all so they started a scholarship in her name. So far that foundation has raised $250,000 and given scholarship to 85 people. 

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