Like most people, I will never forget where I was the morning of September 11th, 2001.
It was my second week of training to become a teacher, and I arrived early at the library to see everyone glued to the screen and watching CNN. As I walked into the library, the second plane crashed into the tower. It was a difficult day for all of us, and we knew that our day was nothing compared to the poor people in the tower. I remember people crying, and all of us felt numb.
A year later, I was in NYC teaching in Brooklyn, and the school year had just started. The first anniversary of 9/11 came up, and I realized that my students had all lived through the experience in a much more personal way than I had. We talked about it. We shared stories. It was the most intimate day of the year for us, and one of the only days that my students were quiet and contemplative.
Over the years, I grew concerned as I watched our liberties erode and the culture of surveillance grow. Boarding a flight turned from being something enjoyable, sometimes even exciting, to something I dreaded. When I learned about the Patriot Act, and all that it entailed, and how it even affected me as a Canadian living in England, I became worried. How could we let one act of violence change our world so much? No one who is content with their life resorts to violence to communicate.
In 2006, on the 5 year anniversary of 9/11, everything changed, at least for my wife and I. Our son was born at 4:03pm. 9/11 changed for us forever, from being a day we mourn, to a day we celebrate. While I will not forget the events that happened on that fateful day, the joy of the birth of my son outweighs all of the negative emotions I have attached to 9/11.
Our son knows nothing about 9/11. He is too young. His life is filled with playing and learning about the universe through the lens of a small child. He does not need to know about the ugliness of the world yet.
In the birth of my son, I learned that even a day of great destruction can become one of hope. Through my son’s eyes, I am reminded that the world is full of wondrous things. I see hope for our future in him, and other children like him who were born into the post-9/11 world.
Each year that we celebrate our son’s birth, I am reminded again that we have not lost celebrations and other reasons for living. I am reminded that our lives should be about building communities and families. I am reminded again of why I want to raise my son to be a good person, a critical thinker, and someone not bound by prejudice. I am reminded that on a day of great trajedy and sorrow, I received the greatest gift of my life.