Where Were You on September 11?

This family was awaiting the birth of our third child.

The name of our third son is Jason — fitting for a child born on Sept. 11.

Yes, on the day. And yes, we were aware of what was going on.

As our nation recognizes the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, our Jason will celebrate his 10th birthday. We’ve always told him that his birth was a blessing, that his new life was healing on such a sad day.

But until this year, we hadn’t exposed him to the full tragedy. Jason knew the bare details that many people died when planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We didn’t think he needed to know any more than that when he was younger. Little boys should enjoy their birthdays.

This summer, we took a trip to Washington, D.C., and visited the Newseum, where there is an exhibit dedicated to Sept. 11. A twisted piece of metal that used to be one of the antennas on top of the World Trade Center is featured, along with a wall of front pages from Sept. 12. We walked around the exhibit and then settled in to watch a documentary.

I had my arm around Jason as we watched the day unfold.

Nearly 10 years earlier, Pat and I were in an room watching the same scene.

I picked the date to accommodate Pat’s graduate school classes and the other boys’ schedules. We were going to pass the time playing cards. But we never got them out.

Our nurse came in to tell us about the crash of the first plane and of her worry for her fiancé and his father, who were flying. We turned on the television and watched the second plane hit the second tower. Our doctor came in and burst into tears. She was unable to get in touch with her son at the Pentagon.

It was surreal having a baby in the midst of such an event. But Jason was a beautiful distraction. Life was extra precious on that day. Around the one-year anniversary, I received a letter from our doctor. She wanted to share how she remembered Jason’s birth and how grateful she was to hold him.

Before watching that documentary, Jason processed the event in the only way he knew how — sort of like a scene in a movie where there is an explosion, people run and might appear hurt but are fine. I held on tightly to Jason as we watched that second plane hit the tower, leaving its imprint behind like a cartoon character running through a wall. Only it is terrible because you know people are losing their lives in that instant.

When the movie was over, Jason was moved to tears. We talked about how it was a terribly sad day. Then, I reminded him about what a blessing he was to us all and retold for the millionth time the story behind his name.  

Pat and I couldn’t decide on a boy name for our third child and had even thrown out a bunch of possibilities to our two older sons who also didn’t have any strong preference. As Pat called home, I decided on Kevin. But our oldest son, David, who was 4, had other ideas. He insisted his new brother was Jason. We made the switch, liking the idea that David had named his brother.

And when we got home from the hospital, I looked up the meanings of the names.

Kevin meant handsome and Jason, healer.

Chelle Arends September 11, 2011 at 06:45 PM
I never new that "jason" story! Thanks for sharing!
Rina Bell Bileski September 14, 2011 at 02:24 AM
I was home in Plymouth MN as the first tower got hit. I thought I was watching the promotion of a new disaster movie. Only in movies, I thought, you watch events like that. It affected me personally. I was born in Israel and 9/11 evoked painful memories. Rina Bell Bileski


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