Layers of Meaning: September 11th
Every day has a special significance to someone.
There are birthdays, wedding days, anniversary commemorations… But few days are as filled with significance and remembrance as September 11th. Since 2001, 9/11 has become a national day of remembrance.
Can I borrow your date?
The scars left by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will always be evident – in lost family as well as challenges to how America balances its senses of security and tolerance. In so many ways, it has changed the way we live, from how we travel to the way our government is structured. Apart from such significant changes, however, are the subtle shifts that take place in the shadow of such a profound tragedy. Those whose special dates of remembrance for their anniversaries, birthdays and other commemorations were on September 11th now have a solemn task: to reconcile their personal celebrations with the nation’s grief.
Reasons to Smile
On September 11, 1948, more than a decade before Osama Bin Laden was even born, my parents married. Today they celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary. On September 11, 2001, their 53rd anniversary was co-opted by national tragedy. Fortunately for them – and all their family – their sense of love and commitment is strong enough to endure all that life has thrown their way. They continue to love one another and cherish the time they have together, a lesson they have passed down to all of their 6 kids and 14 grandkids – and now they eagerly anticipate two great-grandkids on the way.
It’s the weekend after Labor Day; in my family, that can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Day-Hicks Family Reunion (or Hicks-Day, depending on your fidelity to history). Regardless of what you call it, the Family Reunion is a long-standing tradition I have written about before in For Bards Blog. Held by my mother’s family, the event has slimmed down from its peak years, but the reunion has always drawn relatives living in the central Massachusetts area, as well as a healthy dose of those living hundreds of miles away. An old-fashioned, pot-luck affair, I always looked forward to the reunion to run around with my many, many cousins as the adults reminisced about days gone by and changes to the family. I miss the family reunion, and wish I could be there today.
It’s not every day that a guy praises his brother-in-law, but that’s what I find myself doing today, 9/11, because it is my brother-in-law’s birthday. Born a scant 40-something years ago, he is an accomplished chef, although, somehow, he is also a chartered accountant, a pilot and a magician. (For all I know, the guy’s a Jedi master as well. Let’s face it: he’s clearly an overachiever.) But he’s had to share his date with America ever since he was in his 30s.
Every day is special
Those who previously counted September 11th as ‘their day,’ now share it with America – and the world. What was personal is shared – and perhaps that is the way it should be. My parents anniversary, my family’s reunion and my brother-in-law’s birthday – all today, along with the nation’s remembrance of a historical tragedy – will be in my thoughts. I will continue to celebrate 9/11 for its significance to my folks and my family. I will also be grateful for the fact that my best friend from high school, who worked in one of the World Trade Center towers, had opted to take time off from work to visit his sister in California when the planes hit. Similarly, I will remember with sadness the young man who grew up next door to me in upstate New York, who, on 9/11/2001, was a bond trader on the 105th floor of tower #1.
Stories and more stories
With the sunrise on September 12, 2011, America will resume life as usual. Cautious, vigilant, wary… but usual. Our lives were changed by 9/11, but they shouldn’t be diminished. For me, September 11th will always be my parents anniversary, my brother-in-law’s birthday. And, it will be time of remembrance. But no matter how I commemorate the big events in life, I’m comforted by the fact that there will be a sunrise the next morning. And it will be beautiful.