A different September 11

We all know the significance of 9-11. How could we forget that horrific Tuesday ten years ago that forever changed the world?  We won’t forget. We shouldn’t forget, ever.

Living on the West Coast, the news came early.  My kids were 7 and 9. They weren’t awake yet. I was just getting ready to head out the door to work when the phone rang. The Caller ID indicated it was my in-laws.  “Strange,” I thought, “Why would they be calling this early?”  I picked up the phone and on the other end was my father-in-law. He never called. It was always the mother of Mrs. UA who did the calling.  There was no warm greeting as I would have expected, and the tone in my father-in-law’s voice had a ring of distress to it:

“Are you watching the news?” he asked.

My answer was no.

“Turn on the television,” he said. Then he hung up.

I was late to work that day. When I arrived, not much work got done. Before the day was done, the skies were empty of air traffic. It caused an eery silence that I can still hear today.

For my dad, it was a lousy way to celebrate his 70th birthday. We had planned a big party for him a few days later, and while the plans were not canceled, the dark cloud of 9-11-2001 loomed over the festivities. Every year since then, my dad’s birthday is shrouded by the anniversary of the date that war was waged on American soil by an enemy without a country.

Without taking anything away from the fallen heros who gave their lives on that infamous day and to those who have died every day since then as the battle has continued, I want to note that there is another September 11…a day that had special significance long before 9-11. A day that, even with the unfortunate association, is a day worth celebrating.

Happy 80th, Dad.  And God bless America.


  1. cofisher

    A fitting tribute to both Kirk. Happy birthday to your dad.

  2. Sanders

    Happy 80th to your dad! Nice words for a day that we all remember well.

    • Kirk Werner

      I’ll pass along the greetings to the old man, Sanders!

  3. Al Miller

    Very nice write-up – heartfelt and meaningful. Many of us who were far from the East Coast can also remember seeing the televised reports and feeling the shock and dismay of what was happening that day.

    And, of course, Happy Birthday to your father and have a great celebration with the family!

  4. Erin Block

    An honoring tribute…to them both. I hope your Dad has a joyful birthday and wonderful next year…

    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Erin. I hope we all have a wonderful next year.

  5. Wendy McClure Shrumm

    Life and Death are intrinsically connected; they are part of the ever turning wheel of life-death-life and cannot be honored properly if they are separated. Death can be overwhelming to grasp, yet if we remain frozen in that space we will stop the cycle of life-death-life. Movement is imperative to the fullness of life; growth is the path that will teach us the most and help us through the difficult phases. Both death and life should be respected and allowed to teach and guide us.

    Happy Birthday Uncle Oscar!

    • Kirk Werner

      Sage words, cousin o’mine. It’s difficult to sometimes see it this way, but it is very much true as we know. Your presence was missed at the celebration, but your thoughtfulness was appreciated.

  6. Goosemaster

    The last paragraph says it all for me also. Sept. 11 is my sisters birthday too.

    • Kirk Werner

      May there be many happy birthdays for your sister, Gooseman.

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