Born on September 11, 2001


Six area children who were born on September 11, 2001 — from left, Aidan Shaw, Marina Pariser, Juliana Bonilla, William Faber, Arkilah Henry and Michael Briscoe — at the Arlington fire station that responded to the Pentagon attack. (Marvin Joseph/THE WASHINGTON POST)
September 8, 2011

Juliana heard about it from her brother. Marina found out during a class discussion in second grade. Arkilah saw it on TV.

It’s hard to forget when you first learned that you were born on the day of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history — September 11, 2001. On that day, 19 hijackers took control of four planes. Two crashed into skyscrapers in New York City; a third hit the Pentagon in Arlington. The fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field. In all, nearly 3,000 people died.

“I felt a little alone, to be honest,” the District’s Marina Pariser said about finding out she was born on such a tragic day.

But she is not alone. There were 13,238 babies born in this country on Sept. 11, 2001. Six of those babies — all from the Washington area and turning 10 on the historic date — talked to KidsPost about how being born on such a significant day has affected them. All of them have mixed feelings.

“It’s, like, sort of hard to feel sad because it’s the day that I was born, but I still do feel sad,” said Juliana Bonilla of Gaithersburg.

“A lot of bad things happened on that day, but then, a lot of good things were happening on that day, too,” said the District’s Arkilah Henry.

If there’s anything these kids know, it’s that something wonderful can happen at the same time as something terrible. Perhaps no one knows that better than William Faber of South Riding.

William’s grandfather, a former colonel in the Army, was supposed to be at the Pentagon on the morning of the attacks in the part of the building that was hit by a hijacked plane, killing 189 people. But because his grandson was due to be born, he didn’t go to work that day. “He came to the hospital because of me,” William said.

A lot of kids don’t know much about the attacks, which are often simply called “9/11.” But Aidan Shaw of New Market, Maryland, said that having a September 11 birthday makes him “a little more curious than my friends” about the subject. In a strange coincidence, Aidan’s grandfather was born on the day of another terrible attack, on December 7, 1941. That’s when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,403 Americans and bringing the United States into World War II. Back then, people said they would always remember where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor; it’s the same way for people who were alive for September 11.

Several kids said they light a candle, hang a flag or say a prayer on their birthday to honor 9/11 victims, but they also focus on what’s good about that day. As Marina put it, “we celebrate it as a sign of new hope.”

And this year’s birthday is extra special, said Michael Briscoe of the District. “I’m going to the double digits!”

— Margaret Webb Pressler

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