What were you doing? That question will pop up a lot today. Eleven years ago, on September 11, 2001, many people woke up to a horrific scene: two planes crashing into the World Trade Center. Later, many of us watched via live TV as the towers crumbled to the ground. These events forever burned the date, 9/11, on the memory of every American.
But for me, it was always an important date. September 11th is my birthday. The morning of the attacks I was getting ready to go to work, with plans to go out afterwards and celebrate my 21st birthday. I was looking forward to ordering a margarita in a restaurant for the first time. When they asked for my I.D. I would proudly flash my CA license with the picture of the baby-faced 16 year-old Lacey. That didn’t happen.
Instead David and I spent the morning in the parking lot of the mortgage company we both worked for listening to the radio. Later, we caught the news while we were on our breaks as there had been a television set up in the cafeteria for the employees to watch. We lived in Southern California, and many people wondered if Los Angeles could be another target. The world stood still and waited with bated breath to learn more about what had happened.
Usually, on your birthday, you’re greeted with smiles and well wishes. On my 21st birthday, if people remembered, I was met with long faces and quiet whispers of “Happy birthday.”
Every year since then I feel like I need to scream, “Hey it’s my birthday!” Amongst the sorrow that we all remember from that day, and the grief we feel for those who lost their lives and those who survived them, I have a reason to celebrate. Sometimes I feel selfish for wanting to celebrate. Other years that selfishness is coupled with anger because I shouldn’t feel bad that I happen to share this day with a horrible event from our past, and I get angry at the terrorists for taking away some of my joy… some of my innocence.
I truly admire those who have made sacrifices to keep our country safe. It is because of them I can celebrate my birthday in whatever way I want, because I am free.