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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

9/11: a miracle amidst the chaos


Every time I tell someone I was born on Sept. 11, they gasp and say, “9/11/2001? Oh, I’m so sorry your birthday was on such a tragic day.” 

The mood shifts as the person reflects on the devastation that this attack had on the U.S. and how many lives were lost. 

Twenty years later, my response to break the tension still leaves people speechless.

On the morning of Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, my mom went to the gym in the morning and then to work in Bethesda, Maryland, like any other ordinary day. She started feeling contractions at work but continued to deny them because she didn’t think I would be born so early. 

She decided to call her doctor, and he said to go to the hospital immediately. Because I was her first child, my mom didn’t really know what was going on or what to do. 

As for my dad, he was working for IBM and his contract was in New York City. The week of Sept. 11, he was scheduled to work there and stayed at the Marriott between the Twin Towers. 

Because my mom was unsure of when I was going to be born, she suggested that my dad come home from New York a week early. 

After a lengthy labor, my mom gave birth to me at 12:36 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 at Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. She was completely unaware of the tragic series of events that would occur later that morning.

My mom woke up to chaos. Nurses and doctors were frantic and every phone line was busy, so she couldn’t get in contact with my dad. She told me how terrified she was watching the events on the news play out just hours following my birth. As my mom watched what was happening, she told me that she remembered thinking, “What kind of world am I bringing my child into?”

 Since I was born in Maryland, which is not far from the Pentagon, injured patients were brought in from Washington, D.C. My mom was asked to give up her hospital bed if necessary so that those who were injured from the attack could receive immediate assistance. Both of my parents remember seeing people line up outside the hospital to donate blood after they learned that the Pentagon was hit. 

Later on, the doctors asked my parents if they wanted to change my birthday to Sept. 10. My parents decided to keep my birthday as the 11th because they believed that I was the one miracle that came out of that day. The reality of the situation is that if I was born on any other day, there is a good chance my dad would not be alive.

My dad remembers going back to New York after the attack and realizing just how many of his coworkers had died. Months after the attack, many people still didn’t know how many people were injured or killed. My parents were living in fear of the future, especially with a newborn.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I was born on a day when so many lives were lost. I admit I will never fully understand the gravity of this event. Even though I’ve seen videos and talked to survivors, my understanding will never compare to those who experienced the attacks in real time. 

I do believe that a good thing came out of a day that was otherwise terrible—and that was my dad’s survival. I don’t know how it happened, but I call it a miracle. 

I do believe that in some ways, God was involved in choosing 9/11 as the day on which I was born. It gives me purpose in life to believe that my birthday is more than just a coincidence.  

For me, that day is a symbol of a higher power. I hope that others can take my experience as a sign that miracles actually happen, and that there was some light that shone through the darkness of 9/11.

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