This weekend is an important and somber day of remembrance in our country. Everyone in our nation who’s old enough remembers where they were when JFK was assassinated, when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, and now – added to this list a decade ago – where they were when terrorists attacked New York City and Washington D.C.
I, like everyone else, have been asked over the past couple of weeks where I was on that fateful day 10 years ago. But unlike most other people I know, 9/11 has an additional significance to me, and did long before 2001.
On September 11, 2001, I was celebrating my 13th birthday. Wading the perilous waters of middle school, I was unknowingly growing into a new me – and about to meet a new America.
Celebrating the day of my birth filled me with guilt for the first several years after the terrorist attacks. If I got a birthday card in the mail, I cast it aside, almost disdainful of the happy message inside. I didn't want a birthday cake or a present from my family. To me, the nation was in mourning, and I should be too.
As I grew upward into my teenage years, I was unable and unwilling to be happy on any September 11th. I saw my sacrifice as a tribute to our nation's pain, and almost an apology for having been born on that day.
After a few years, the loving words of my family and the support of other loved ones helped me realize that in not celebrating my birthday, I was failing to honor the military fighting every single day to protect me and my ability to celebrate, and more importantly, I was not honoring the God who created me and the very day I was born.
Several of my friends and classmates who charged by me in the hallway that day in 2001 are now serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, still vigilant and fighting to protect me and all other citizens of this country. Today I celebrate my birthday, in part to honor them and also thank them. I now consider it a privilege to get a birthday card in the mail, and receive it with the love that was intended.
Now, in my new job at CrinkledNose, I get to help others celebrate life in so many ways. With every birthday party invitation, graduation announcement, or Fourth of July barbecue invitation I design, I have a part in the grand celebration of our blessed life in America, and all the occasions we all have in this nation to cherish. In so doing, we’re thanking those that make this life possible.
As I embark on year twenty-three today, I encourage you to embrace life along with me this year. After all, the best thing you can do to thank God and your country is to live life well!