The date 9/11 has a special meaning in my family. We are an odd family in that we are very small in size, yet share dates for almost everything. There are certain numbers that reoccur time after time, generation after generation… For a few examples, my birthday is Nov 21. My grandparents anniversary is also November 21. My dad’s birthday is December 12. The birthday of my late grandmother on my mother’s side was April 12. One of the most chilling, however, is the birthday of both my mother and my younger cousin: September 11.
Any time I am asked something about my mother, usually her age or birthday, I answer with “she’s xx year old” and “her birthday is September 11.” Rather than receiving the typical “how nice!” response, I instead have watched face after face of my friends and acquaintances fall and their eyes shy away as I mention the deadly number. A number that once signified safety, now sends shivers up the spines of anyone that hears it. It’s hard enough for me to keep a smile on my face as I try to remember 9/11 as a good day, as nothing more than a birthday, but I was being foolish in even bothering to try. 9/11 broke the hearts of millions and not just in our country alone.
While I was in Germany last term, I was having coffee with my Belgian roommate when my computer lit up and the headline on BBC news was about the death of Osama. I learned this exciting information about the same time as many other people in the cafe because I suddenly saw smiles flash across the room. Several of the American students ran outside and yelled, fist pumped, high fived, all of the things one would expect from students that left their home country with a 10 year old open wound. The Europeans caught me by surprise. They were so excited and relieved as well. The world seemed to stop for a minute as we all forgot everything going on around us and took a minute to breathe a giant, long anticipated sigh of relief. It was a proud day for the world, and it was evident everywhere.
Being home now, I can’t help but have a slightly different perspective on things. Rather than being sad about the past and the lives that were lost, we should be proud of our nation, it’s ability to come together after such an incredible attack on our soil, and the fact that we never gave up. So many brave men and women lost their lives on 9/11/2001, and have continued to do so for justice and liberty since that fateful day. My mother expressed to me that she never much cared for her birthday, but after 2001, she refused to celebrate as she felt it was inappropriate and there was no point to recognize such a dreadful memory. It saddened me to think my mother couldn’t even look at her birthday in a positive light anymore. Sure, who likes getting older? But to dislike your birthday because your whole country is in a somber mood and refuses to recognize any good in the day is just preposterous. Yes, it has been 10 years, and yes it is still really painful for many families and individuals, however constantly looking at the negative is the same as ripping off the band-aid a few days too early and opening the wound to bleed once again. If we could turn our way of thinking into a more positive and hopeful attitude, perhaps the negativity would start to dissipate over time. Showing footage of the planes crashing into the towers isn’t going to help anyone to come to terms with the horrendous terrorist attack on our country. It’s not that we should sweep our hardships and painful losses under the rug, however always viewing negative, chilling footage can’t be good for anyone or anything.
I propose viewing this day from now on as a hardship we were able to overcome. A battle which we were able to win. A scar of which we can tell stories for years to come. We shouldn’t look as 9/11 as a day that destroyed our nation. That gives Al-Qaeda too much credit. 9/11 was a day that brought a nation divided together to seek justice. 9/11 symbolizes so much more than an attack on our soil. It was merely a wake up call to push the country that is the United States of America into gear and bring us even more together as an actual United nation.