It’s the worst birthday ever. I’ve heard that for the past six years. Yes, I was born on Sept. 11.
I’m sure my mother didn’t plan to have her first-born on a day wrought with sorrow and tragedy. It isn’t her fault that her 15-year-old’s birthday smile was replaced with horror. I’m also sure there was no intention of having
me watch the footage of the towers being obliterated with ice cream cake melting on my spoon. I grow tired with the same song and dance. Sept. 11, 2001, was tragic, but I want to celebrate my birthday again.
Today is the six-year anniversary of that day and my 21st birthday. I almost feel guilty that I share my birthday with the final day of nearly 3,000 lives, but I personally feel that Sept. 11 shouldn’t have to be a day where only tears are shed. No doubt it should be a day of remembrance, reverence and memorial but along with that a sense of pride and growth should surround it.
How much and what sort of attention should the anniversary receive six years later and in the future? The National Constitution Center in Old City is holding a reading of a play that collected the stories of Sept. 11 victims. There are church memorials, concerts and a service week scheduled in and around New York City. I think these are tremendous ways to commemorate the day. Encouraging service is particularly fitting. Sept. 11 was all about service. Police, firefighters and civilians put their own needs to the side to help and save others.
Sept. 11 was a deep tragedy, but Americans should grow and learn from it. We are a lot more vigilant about terrorist attacks and many have been thwarted. Sept. 11 was a day of sorrow but we don’t have to let that day in 2001 define what and how we observe it in the future. Maybe I’ll even be lucky enough to enjoy my birthday guiltlessly in the future.
Dashira Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.