”History never looks like history when you are living through it.” – John W. Gardner
September 11 is my step-dads birthday.
On September 11, 2001 he lost a birthday and so did so many other people. They most likely received no presents, no calls of happy birthday from friends or relatives. It was a day they each got a year older but they are the only ones who may remember it as the day they lost a birthday.
Waking up that day, I remember getting ready for work, getting some cereal from the pantry and sitting down to watch my morning news. Turning the TV on I saw what we all saw, the towers on fire and heard all the rumors about other planes, that Air Force One was being targeted and that maybe this was the beginning and that something worse was going to happen.
After seeing the first clip of the towers burning I ran upstairs to wake my wife. “They’re attacking New York City!” is the only thing I remember saying to her. She looked at me with a look that I will always remember. “What? Who is attacking New York?” She said. “terrorists.”
Following me down the stairs, I showed her the TV and we watched for a few minutes before I had to leave for work. She asked me to stay home, I said I have to work.
I listened to the radio the trip to work, the gossip of what was really going on and what they thought was going on.
Arriving at work, I remember pulling into the parking garage and the strip was quiet, so quiet I expected a tumbleweed to roll down the strip like an old western movie.
Getting to the bar, it was the same quiet. The casino was empty, people were either staying in their rooms, too afraid to come out or they were sitting at the bar in stunned silence. All the TV’s were on one news channel or another.
I stared at the TV’s with everyone else that day. The only thing I remember serving that day were prayers offered to those that were injured or those who lost their lives.
I didn’t realize until a few days later that I hadn’t called my step-dad to tell him happy birthday, and by then everyone was concerned with other things.
There have been times I have checked ID’s at the bar of those born on September 11th. When they hand me their ID, I don’t know what they are expecting, but I tell them it is my step-dad’s birthday as well and that seems to help.
The people born on this date, just like those who had December 7th as their birthday during the attack on Pearl Harbor and everyone else who shares a birthday with any significant event in the history of their life live with that every year in a way that we can never understand.
To them it was the day they lost their birthday.
Happy Birthday to my Step-Dad. He goes by many names but September 11 is his birthday. We call him, Stew, Dad, Stewy, Mike, Pappa or Parental Role Model. But today his birthday.