This year, as with every year since the September 11 terrorist attacks, my child’s school will honor the memory of those who were killed by dressing in red, white and blue and observing a moment of silence. This scene will be played out in schools all over the country as we try to collectively come to terms with the horror of that day.
But one thing that won’t be happening in her class today is a birthday celebration for a boy who turns ten tomorrow. While I am sure his teacher would happily pass out cupcakes to mark the occasion, his mother says he prefers not to draw attention to the fact that his birthday falls on the same date that so many of his classmates lost friends and family members in the tragedy.
My child’s classmate was just a baby on September 11, 2001, but he understands the significance of the day and feels uncomfortable celebrating his birthday because of it. And he’s not alone. Many people with September 11 birthdays say they prefer to keep a low profile and avoid making a big deal out of the day they were born.
It’s one thing for an adult to forgo birthday celebrations on September 11. But what about for a child who was born on that date? Is it wrong to celebrate a child’s birth on a day when so many people died? Of course it isn’t wrong. But it is understandably hard to feel joyful amid so much pain.
The fact that my child’s classmate feels so uneasy about acknowledging the date he was born makes me feel very sad for him. And it also makes me angry that something as beautiful as the celebration of a child’s birth will forever be overshadowed by something as ugly as what happened on September 11.
Lots of bad things have happened throughout American history, but this particular event is unique in that it is known by the date on which it happened. And if that date happens to also be your child’s birthday? Well, I hope you’ll celebrate.
Image: ben dalton/Flickr
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