Commentary: A different way to remember 9-11

Issac Bailey is a columnist for The Sun-News, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Issac Bailey is a columnist for The Sun-News, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. MCT

The ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was marked this year with remembrances about that horrific day and debates about the placement of an Islamic cultural center that was likened to a "Ground Zero Mega Mosque."

I'm going to remember that day differently this weekend when my son Kyle has his ninth birthday.

I still can't shake the feeling that there was a black cloud over the entire nation for several months during that period, including the final seven weeks of my wife's pregnancy. It was scary, not knowing what other catastrophe - or catastrophes - awaited us.

And it was scarier still because of the thought of bringing a child into such a seemingly violent, uncertain world.

But Kyle's birth was a revelation; his life has been a godsend.

The moment I spied his hairy, elongated head emerging from the womb (his head has since rounded into shape), he changed our lives, complicating them in ways we never imagined. He made our lives better. And more challenging.

He forced us to change priorities, or really to make them for the first time.

And since then, the power of his personality and presence has allowed me to put to rest many of the fears I had in the dark days after those attacks.

Because he reminded - reminds me - that sunshine is born into the world every day, and that the planet is renewed and refreshed and made whole again every time, even when we can't see it or feel it or don't expect it.

He didn't allow us to stay mired in the ugliness that invariably accompanies such a horrific event, because the event of his birth and his life was more powerful.

In those final few weeks before he was born, I concentrated on the challenges that he would face, even about the possibility that he wouldn't get to live in the kind of free country I inherited.

But when he came through the birth canal, thin and frail and gangly, that changed, because I knew he and others like him were being born, and they would have answers we didn't, they would have courage if we didn't, that they would pick up the torch and run with it.

And it was going to be my responsibility to help develop him so he could use those tools, to keep the country free and strong and beautiful and progressing the way it has for more than two centuries, sometimes through major struggle, sometimes pulled forward by the force of the passionate, the committed, the righteous.

He renewed in me a faith I didn't know I was losing to cynicism and fear.

He helped me long before I began helping him.

I didn't realize that then. But I do now. And that's why commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks at this time of year makes more sense to me than "never forgetting" every September.

Because Kyle's birth demanded that I do more than simply remember. It demanded that I do better, too.

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