Sept. 11 is my birthday. I know two other young men with Sept. 11 birthdays and I remember that my fourth grade teacher had a Sept. 11 birthday as well.
There are many celebrities that share this unfortunate birthday including singer Harry Connick Jr., Rapper Ludacris, Guitarist Jon Buckland of Coldplay, and singer Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum. The nine-year-old girl killed in the Arizona shootings, Christina Taylor Green, was born on Sept. 11, 2001 and there are also probably dozens of other West Chester University students and probably at least a professor or two with Sept. 11 birthdays.
Although the day is overshadowed by the horrific acts of evil committed against this great country by those who hate our freedom, those of us with Sept. 11 birthdays can remind our fellow Americans that the day is not all bad.
In fact, on Sept. 11, 2001, more than 13,200 Americans were born, while less than 3,000 died as a result of the terrorist attacks. While this fact doesn’t make those deaths any less tragic, it is a reminder that Sept. 11 is not just a day of death and sorrow but also of life and joy. Sept. 11 is not just a day when hatred of our freedom drove terrorists to kill nearly 3,000 Americans, it is also a day when 13,238 babies were born as a result of love.
In this sense, Sept. 11 represents life and death, good and evil, and love and hate better than perhaps any other day of the year. We saw the worst of humankind in the form of terrorists. We saw the best of humankind in the form of the heroic first responders and the soldiers deployed to kill terrorists and liberate Afghans living under the oppressive rule of the Taliban so that they could take charge of their own future. They gave food and water to the starving people of Afghanistan and handed out toys to the Afghan children.
Finally, there was one other positive thing that happened on Sept. 11, 2001, that actually came about as a result of the terrorist attacks: Americans were truly united. For some time, whether it be ordinary Americans or members of congress, it didn’t make much difference whether one was a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative. Almost all of us were united by our love of freedom and our desire to exact justice on those responsible for the attacks.
In today’s atmosphere of political polarization and vitriol from both sides directed at one another, we could use a lesson on the importance of unity just about now. We can disagree with one another and we can have vigorous political debates (indeed, this is healthy for a democratic society), but we should always remember that when it comes right down to it, we are all Americans—the four percent of human beings privileged enough to live in the greatest country in the world.
It shouldn’t take another terrorist attack to realize just how petty our right-left differences are in the overall scheme of things. The word enemy has been used by several politicians in this highly charged political atmosphere to refer to ideological opponents. Hopefully we don’t need another terrorist attack to remind us that the real enemy is Islamic militancy, not conservatives or liberals. And, in order to defeat this evil, we must stand united behind our common principles and aspirations that make the American people the engine that drives the most powerful, most just, and most generous country on the planet Earth—the United States of America. May we, as Americans, find the strength to come together once again as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Bill Hanrahan is a fourth year student majoring in Political Science. He can be reached at WH750431@wcupa.edu.