Asia SiVon Cottom
Her parents, Clifton and Michelle Cottom, were so proud that Asia had been chosen to go on a four-day National Geographic field trip to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California. The plan was for her to take part in one of the America’s premier undersea projects-the Sustainable Seas Expedition. It was an incredible honor to be chosen. Asia was selected for the trip because she was a good and eager student, she had a bright and energetic personality, and she possessed excellent communication skills.
Asia was one of three exceptional students who had been chosen to go on the four-day National Geographic field trip. Accompanied by her teacher Miss Sarah M. Clark, they were flying from Washington, DC to Santa Barbara, California to go to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Asia and her teacher never made it to their destination. Asia SiVon Cottom, 11, was one of three DC Public School students who died on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001.
The Cottom’s whole world changed on that day. No parent imagines losing a child and no parent is prepared to move on in life without them. Dealing with the loss of their daughter was indescribable for Clifton and Michelle Cottom. In the days and weeks following 9/11 they were amazed by the outpouring of support, even from complete strangers, in the form of cards, letters and money. They began to wonder what to do with the funds, and finally decided to honor their daughter’s memory in a way that highlighted her academic achievements: by establishing a scholarship in her memory.
As part of their healing and Asia’s legacy, they are very proud of the establishment of the Asia SiVon Cottom Memorial Scholarship Fund (ASC). Because of generous contributions, the scholarship awards have helped numerous students on their journey to becoming our future leaders and innovators. Their goal is to continue to grow the Scholarship Fund and assist as many aspiring students reach their dreams of attending higher education as possible. Asia Cottom’s family believes that by helping today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders, they are helping to preserve Asia’s memory as well as make the world a better place for the future. Asia’s death is not in vain; her life continues to touch others through this scholarship program.
I said, “I don’t want to hear no more.” I dropped to my knees and started praying.
Asia and I had fun with each other. I’m six years older than her, but we played together a lot. We also fought like normal brothers and sisters. She made me do things with her I didn’t want to do … like playing dress up and playing with Barbie dolls. She would even get me dressed up like a princess, complete with pink clothes and a crown on my head! If I would protest, she would say, “You gotta do this now or I will call Mommy.” But, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it every time. We would play house. We would put the Barbies in the cars and ride them around. We played Double-Dutch. We also played hide-and-seek in the house and outside.
When Asia passed, I created music for her. I had to do something because at the time I was mad. I was mad at the whole thing that happened. Creating music was a way for me to deal with my pain. I didn’t want that to happen to her. I didn’t want my sister to die.
A couple of months after 9/11, I was just sitting in my house one day and I overheard something on the news about that awful day. The news reports come on unexpectedly, and it brings me right back. Those feelings of being right back amidst the awful tragedy.
To Asia, A Poem from your brother Isiah
America is falling apart
I wonder why people going to war
It remind me that happen before
I fell in basketball got a sore
We need to stop it make me sad
I think of Jesus it makes me glad
I will never forget Asia SiVon Cottom
My mom had to sit her on her bottom
Sometimes I can’t watch TV anymore
Because it’s an eyesore
I PRAY FOR IT TO BE OVER!!!!
My sister Asia was a loving, caring person. She was never afraid to do anything. She was happy with herself. And the best part is that she loved me just the way I am. If Asia were still here I would want her to go to school and to do whatever she wants to do. I’m still here and I get to do all of those things that she never got to do. Sometimes I just want my best friend with me. No one knew her like I did.
Asia inspired many to excel and embrace one another’s uniqueness. Her life exemplified the fruit of the Spirit. What the enemy thought he took will NEVER die! The lessons of acceptance and truth will be echoed through my Ministry work and in daily life.”
When the Randall Memorial moved to their current location, we continued in the fellowship over food. From time to time, we would have potluck meals and one of the highlights was a meal that consisted of chicken and Mac and Cheese. What many people didn’t know was that Asia and I were “in” with the cooks, especially her Grandmother Pearl. Every week, they would slip us samples before everyone else or we would get all of the extras that few people got. Asia and I would make eye contact and “operation sneak a snack” was in full effect. If it could fit in a paper towel or a napkin, we had it!
On Saturday, September 8, 2001, Koinonia Fellowship Ministries was occupying the Sargent Road location. It was back to school time so it was customary for us to hold our annual “School Supplies Giveaway”. We would invite the school-aged kids in the neighborhood to come by and get free supplies as well as hot dogs and hamburgers. Along comes Asia on her bike, smiling and singing to the music playing. She jumps off the bike and gives me a hug. I laugh and tell her that she is almost as tall as I am. “Ms. Renee, guess what? I am going to California with my school.” I replied as I handed her a hot dog “No you’re not. School just started.” “Yes I am. My teacher is taking us.” Now I need more information. I need to know where was she going and how long would she be gone? Who is going to feed my baby? I know that Clifton and Michelle are her parents, but I needed more details because Asia was “my girl”. Of course all Asia had was the important information…which was “she was going!” At this point, the hamburgers were almost done but they were missing the cheese. So, to get more information about the trip, I promised her the first cheeseburger IF she went up the street to “sneak” some cheese and get me some more details about the trip. Needless to say, Asia got the first cheeseburger and I got details about the upcoming trip sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
I was sitting at my desk on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 when my life as I knew it shook…permanently. Although I made it out of the building physically unharmed, it took several hours for me to get near home. The phone lines were jammed and I could not get in contact with my biological family but somehow, I ended up at the Cottom’s house. We all embraced each other because they were worried about me. When the phone rang and the word came about the plane, no words can express the pain I felt. I kept thinking while weeping that they were worried about me. How could that be? What I discovered in life is that when you are in covenant relationship with someone, you are there for each other in good and bad times…when you have something to say or when your presence speaks for you. I could not find words to comfort the Cottoms, but then I didn’t need to. Michelle who never let go of her faith said it for all of us. My baby got her wings today! I took comfort in knowing that Asia now had an aerial view and that she now watches over us. I thank God for allowing my little buddy Asia who was nearly the same age as my children to touch my life in such a special way.