The 9/11 tragedy affected so many people on so many different levels. Of course, there was loss, hatred, patriotism, conspiracy and a myriad of other feelings and consequences that came out of the loss of the World Trade Center in 2001. But what about the people who have birthdays and anniversaries on this significant date? What do they experience every year?
Dora* and Andrew* will have been married 11 years on September 11, 2012. They were married in a modest ceremony in a small town in southeast Texas. They had seriously considered postponing the wedding after watching what had happened that morning. Their friends and family convinced them to go ahead with the weekday wedding, as they didn’t know when Andrew would be available again. He had an offshore job that took him away from home for weeks at a time.
“Even 10 years after the whole World Trade Center thing, we get strange looks if we’re out celebrating our anniversary at a restaurant. We’ve even had one guy tell us that we were heartless for having a good time!” Andrew recalls. “When is this ever going to stop?”
Dora and Andrew are by no means alone. Over 10,000 babies were born on September 11, 2001. As it was a weekday, not as many weddings took place. However in 2004, when 9/11 fell on a Saturday, 8,000 weddings were held across the country. Reasons for choosing this date range from “taking back that day as a happy one,” to “honoring a fallen loved one.”
While birth dates are not as widely chosen as happen by chance, children born on that fateful day will turn 11 years old this year. Amanda*, a rambunctious 4th grader, has always known that something was different about her birthday. “Sometimes, people are sad on my birthday,” she says, frowning. “But everybody at my party is happy!” Her mother, Sandy*, says that she has experienced all kinds of reactions to party invitations she sends home with Amanda’s classmates. “I had one mom call me and yell at me once,” she remembers. “She asked me how I could be so thoughtless – like I had any say in when my daughter was born!” Most people are very gracious, Sandy says. “They realize this is a little girl’s birthday party and nothing else. Amanda hasn’t ever had a bad experience with her birth date.”
Perhaps the country will always mourn each year when September 11 rolls around. But for 10,000 kids and countless couples, that date will be special to them for entirely different – and joyous – reasons.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons