What If Your Birthday Was on September 11th?

911 Birthday Cake
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Confession: Most of the time, I can barely recall what Netflick I watched last night or what I ate for lunch earlier in the day, but ask me what it was like to be in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001, and I remember that day like it was still happening. I remember seeing the smoke from the first tower as I stood at the corner of 19th Street and 5th Avenue, walking to work that morning and thinking “Something’s on fire.” I can tell you what the weather was like (the most beautiful late summer Tuesday, ever).

I recall the most minute, bullshit details of numerous conversations I had with people that day. I can tell you what I made for lunch (pasta with chicken in red sauce). I even remember what I was wearing. It’s been ten years since that day and for me it’s like it was, as they say, just yesterday. I’m sure I’ll have the same clarity about September 11, 2001 for the rest of my life. If you were in NYC at the time, you can’t ever forget. But think about this: what is that day like for people whose birthday is on September 11th? That’s something I hadn’t really considered until I read this fantastic story in The Awl built around first-person testimonials from10 people who are unfortunate enough to have 9/11 as their birth date. Ten People Who Observe Birthdays on 9/11 is by far my favorite remembrance piece of the too-many-to-mention that I’ve already read over the past few days. It captures just the right balance of candor and uncomfortable humor that feel appropriate after a decade of 9/11 anniversaries. The piece starts out like this:

Jotham Sederstrom, 34, freelance reporter: On September 10th, my friends took me out for birthday drinks in Chicago. I was out until three or four, I think, at a place called “The Hideout,” among other places. I didn’t wake up until about noon, at which point everything had changed.

George Spyros, 44, executive producer: I got married the weekend before. We had a bunch of friends and family from out of town, and went out Monday night for dinner. My wife and I were supposed to fly out on September 11th for our honeymoon. On top of that, it’s my birthday.

Michael Wright, 44, editorial director: September 11th has always been the best day of the year for me — and then it all goes to shit.

Allison Spensley, 31, mid-career change: It was my 21st birthday, so of course I had plans to go out.

And it just gets more engaging. You can read the rest – and I strongly recommend that you do – Here.

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One thought on “What If Your Birthday Was on September 11th?

  1. It’s a great shift of perspective whilst still preserving the memory. Another partial balm for the inherent sadness is to watch “Man On Wire”.

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