On September 11, my parents and I will celebrate. We celebrate every September 11. It’s their anniversary.
My parents got married in 1971. My mom remembers her 30th wedding anniversary like this:
“Your father woke me up with a phone call. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s nice, he’s calling to wish me happy anniversary.’ But what he said was, ‘Turn on the TV.’ So I did, and I saw what was happening, and I couldn’t believe it. But after a few hours, after I processed everything, I was like, ‘Wait, this is still my anniversary.’ So I went out to the jewelry store to get your dad a gift.
“It was in a mall, and there were a couple people walking around. I was trying to pick something out for him, and this lady walked up to me and said, ‘How can you even think about jewelry when this is going on?’ I started to cry. She really upset me. I wasn’t sure if she was right.”
My parents aren’t the only ones in this awkward position. My high school friend Josh was born on September 11. So were four of my Facebook friends. So was local magician Jeff McBride. And, if my math serves me, so were about 5,300 Las Vegans.
Of course, none of these September 11–born Las Vegans can complain about the date being soured, because their loss pales in comparison to the loss experienced by others. But they don’t have to complain; everybody understands what it means.
“Most of the time,” McBride tells me, “when people find out that my birthday is on September 11, they say, ‘That’s so sad! They ruined your birthday!’ I’m very used to this.”
But, as McBride will tell you, they didn’t ruin his birthday. This year, he’s having a party. And I’ll be celebrating, too. I’ll be flying back to suburban Detroit, cranking up Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs (one of my all-time favorite albums, which, as it happens, came out on September 11, 2001), and having a fancy dinner with my parents. We’ll probably order cake, and the restaurant will probably put a candle in it.
It doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate what happened; it means the terrorists lost.