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  • "So, growing up with a September 11 birthday was very hard, because as soon as it happened, I was still fairly young - 7 or 8 - and it didn’t mean much then. I kind of knew what was going on but I never put the 9/11 attacks and my birthday together, but it was in 6th grade - I’ll never forget this - one girl came up to me, and the class got done singing happy birthday, and just that morning we had our moment of silence for the 9/11 victims. But, you know, our class still kind of celebrated my birthday a little bit.

    And we left class and this girl came up to me and asked if my birthday was really on that day and I told her it was and she asked what I was doing to celebrate and I told her my family was just coming over and we were just going to cut a cake and celebrate that way. And she just gave me this look and said, 'I can’t believe you’re actually going to celebrate your birthday today, when so many people died.'

    And just hearing that finally brought those two together - you know, it brought the 9/11 attacks and my birthday. And for the longest time, it was hard for me to separate those two events, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty for celebrating my birthday on a day of such tragedy. And I know, obviously, it wasn’t my fault that I was born on that day; it just so happened, and the attacks happened after I was born and things just happen.

    But it was hard for me to realize that this wasn’t my fault, [that] I had nothing to do with this and that I need to start thinking about these two events completely differently. And I think, throughout the years, as my parents helped and my friends were very supportive and just as time went on, people kept reassuring me that my birthday and the attacks had nothing to do with one another; they were two separate events. And I realized and learned that I can still pay my respects to all the victims and everyone affected by the 9/11 attacks but still be able to celebrate my birthday. So I think it was a long process of finally accepting, finally letting that guilt go and just realiz[ing] that as long as I pay my respects to everyone affected, then I’ll still be able to celebrate my birthday with a clear conscience."
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