Fact Check

A Presidential Hug

A viral photograph shows President George W. Bush hugging the daughter of a 9/11 victim.

Published Jun 10, 2004

 (Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Wikimedia Commons
A viral photograph shows President George W. Bush hugging the daughter of a 9/11 victim.

On 4 May 2004, a campaign swing through the Midwest saw President Bush visiting Lebanon, Ohio, where — as he worked the crowd outside the Golden Lamb (the state's oldest inn) — he was photographed giving a comforting hug to 15-year-old Ashley Faulkner, whose mother was killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The moment was captured with a digital camera by Ashley's father, Lynn Faulkner. (Ashley's mother, Wendy Ruth Faulkner, a vice president of a risk management and insurance brokerage company, was working in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11 and did not survive the collapse of the building.)

Bush Photo with Teen Shows Conviction and Compassion

It started out as a fluke. Lynn Faulkner had been offered an extra ticket to a Bush campaign event by his neighbor Linda Prince. Mr. Faulkner decided to offer it to his 15-year old daughter Ashley who he expected would decline, as she would have to miss some school to attend. But his daughter surprised him. Ashley reminded her dad how four years ago they attended a similar event when then Texas Governor George W. Bush visited the same spot on the campaign trail.

Pres. Bush & Ashley Faulkner

Ashley remembered attending that event with both her father and her mother Wendy Faulkner. It was raining that day and they all stood in the rain awaiting Governor Bush "eating Triscuit crackers" enjoying the time together and hoping to get a glimpse of the would-be president. Ashley recalled holding her mothers hand as they waited. So she decided to go again this year, but this time her mother could not attend. Wendy Faulkner was murdered on 9/11/01 in the south tower of the World Trade Center. She was there on the 104th floor for a one-day meeting. Ashley decided to miss school in honor and remembrance of her mother and attend the event.

[Rest of article here.]

An editorial about the story behind the photograph can be found at the Washington Dispatch web site, which also includes a page of reader-submitted commentary about the story.


Goetz, Kristina.   "Bush Pauses to Comfort Teen."     The Cincinnati Enquirer.   6 May 2004.

Hallett, Joe.   "No Apology from Bush Just Yet."     The Columbus Dispatch.   5 May 2004   (p. A1).

Hallett, Joe.   "Despite the Post-9/11 Tribulations, the President Remains a Leader."     The Columbus Dispatch.   9 May 2004   (p. B5).

Rairden, C.K.   "Bush Photo with Teen Shows Conviction and Compassion."     The Washington Dispatch.   10 May 2004.

Zimkus, Charlie.   "Our Artist Records Warm Welcome for President Bush."     The Columbus Dispatch.   6 May 2004   (p. B8).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags