Every year on this date, I experience mixed emotions – some joyous, and some understandably horrifying. You see, on this date in 1997, I held my little son for the first time, and for the first time I understood what complete, unadulterated joy was, as that tiny little face gazed up at me contentedly under a cap of orange hair.
On this date in 2001 – on my son’s fourth birthday – this day took on another meaning. I described it in this essay to my son many years later, hoping he would look on this day as one of opportunity, and not one of horror. Being born on 9-11 is still being born. You’re still given a life – one that you can live like a hero, or one that you can allow to control you like a coward. I still hope for the former for the Redhead.
There’s a memorial on base today to commemorate the September 11th terrorist attacks. I considered going for a brief moment, but then I realized I don’t need a memorial to remember. I don’t need a memorial telling me how I should never forget. I can do that without songs or battle cries. It’s not that I don’t want to show my respect. I show respect to those who died in the attacks and those who died subsequently in the war against terrorism every day. I have my own moment of silence. Minutes of silence. Hours of silence, sometimes. I have them in my head every day, because I don’t need a memorial to remember the horror.
So, no. I chose to come to the lab and write this blog post instead of attending the 9-11 memorial in the chapel today. I chose to communicate with my son and tell him once again how much I honor, respect and love him. I chose to look forward to his future, instead of focusing on the horrors of the past. This is a day of joy for me. True, it’s somewhat tinged with the horror, the fire and the tragedy of 9-11-2001, but it’s still a day of joy, because I watch my son grow and celebrate another year of a life that has barely begun and has so much opportunity ahead of it!
I choose to remember all the good things about my child and about the opportunities he will have growing up in this country, and about the joys of life he will experience, instead of focusing on the pain and sorrow.
I choose to look ahead to good things to come, instead of the horrors of the past.
This does not mean that I don’t care about the meaning of 9-11 or choose to ignore the memories. It merely means I choose to honor those who have died and those who have given their lives to protect this nation by honoring the future.
Happy 16th birthday, Redhead! I’m so lucky to have you in my life!