Sep 09, 2011

September 11 – Bittersweet Celebrations for My Family

By: Amy Atlas, in Amy's Latest

Zachary eating cake for first time on his 1st birthday.

The ten year anniversary for September 11 is this Sunday.  As I mentioned earlier this week, it is so hard to believe that it is 10 years since that tragic day.

September 11th is always bittersweet for my family.  I can still remember my husband and I looking at each other on the eve of September 10th when I was in labor.  We were thinking the very same thing.  Our son would be born on September 11th.  It was only 3 years earlier when the planes struck the Word Trade Center, just a few miles from our home.  We looked at each other with comfort.  Several months prior to going in labor, we had already decided we were going to name our son Zachary {Zachor}, which in Hebrew means “to remember”.  We were specifically naming our first baby to give honor and “to remember” my father-in-law’s entire family, who perished in the concentration camps in Poland.  It was hard to name Zachary after any one person, given that Zachary’s paternal grandfather lost all his siblings, parents, aunts and uncles from one horrific event.  We wanted to honor and “to remember” all of them.  The name Zachary seemed so appropriate.

So when we realized on that eve I was in labor that our Zachary was going to be born on September 11th, it seemed even more poignant that he would be getting that name.  We had also known people who perished on September 11th, and our baby’s name would now carry even more meaning.  It just so happens that our now big guy is completely an old soul and somehow I can’t help but think there is a reason for that.

Every September 11th is somewhat bittersweet for us.  On one hand, we’re celebrating our son’s birthday.  It is a time of happiness and innocence for him.  On another hand, we’re remembering. At some point this weekend, we’ll go downtown with both of our kids to remember and honor the people who lost their lives that date.  Zach has known about what happened on both September 11 and in Poland for about a year now, and we think it is important that he knows about those events.  The rest of the weekend will be focused on cake, laughter, and cherishing new beginnings.  It will be bittersweet.

My big guy now (in the red shirt sitting back to us) just yesterday at his desk for first day in first grade…


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  • This is a completely lovely post, Amy. I really just adore the fact that you named your son after such significant events in your life and your family. What a wonderful legacy he was born with. I really would love to travel to NYC to see the memorial. It is on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing this, on this very special weekend.

  • Beautiful post.

  • Angela Willis

    This post makes me love you even more,Amy. It shows me your heart and that of your husband’s and how you are so much more than your ‘art; you are full of substance and compassion which will last (through you children) long after you are gone.

    • Amy

      Thank you, Angela. Our hope is that it will continue to live on.

  • Beautiful story. Beautiful, perfect name. (September 11th is a day of varied emotions in our house too as it is my husband’s birthday as well.) Happy Birthday to your son!! May his special day be filled with small, magical moments and scored with peals of laughter.

    • Amy

      Thank you very much, Gwynn. Happy Birthday to your husband as well.

  • Rena

    Wow Amy that is beautiful. It is so important to remember these events. Congrats on Zachs birthday and first day of school!

  • Danielle

    Truly a beautiful post!

  • Beautiful post! I love that so much love and thought went into the name you gave your sweet boy! I hope his special day is filled with an abundance of joy and happiness!

  • Wow, truly bittersweet, like so much of life. I love that you accept the world for what it is and share it with your son, I am sure his life is richer for it.

    • Amy

      Thank you, Jeannie. That is our hope.

  • Mihaela

    Amy – I love your posts – this one made me have tears in my eyes.. we will always remember Sept 11th.. congrats on the little one’s b-day 🙂

  • 🙂


  • Donna

    yes. tears. very well said. thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for sharing such a beautifully written post – hope your son has a wonderful birthday!

  • I teared up reading your post. Thank you for sharing it with all of your fans. I can’t wait to see photos of your son’s birthday on here–I’m sure it will be fabulous.

  • (Wiping off tear) What a personal and sweet post Amy. I wish we would all just love each other and nothing like these past two event, among many others, hadn’t ever happened. Happy Birthday to Zackary!

  • Amy

    Thank you all for your lovely comments. They all touched me.

  • Thanks for sharing that with us Amy, that was a beautiful post. I, too have my birthday on September 11 (over in New Zealand) and even though we’re so far away it sometimes feels a bit funny to celebrate on such a sad day.

    • Amy

      Thank you Lydia and have a wonderful birthday:)

  • Debbi

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story. I believe life is about finding joy, even in those bitter moments.

  • Lauren

    Such an emotional post.
    No doubt Zachary is beautiful soul with such loving sentiments behind his name.
    Happy Birthday to your special little man and thoughts with all those gone too soon.

  • Thank you for this post. I too have a 9/11 baby (will be four this Sunday). And in my heart I struggle with this day and the memories of 9/11/01, but want to be sure to cherish the miracle brought to my husband and I. Happy birthday to your Zachary!

  • Lorena

    Amy, que bellas palabras….beautiful words. Best wishes to Zach. Praying for peace.

  • Beautiful post. Happy Birthday Zachary.

  • Dalia

    Thank you for sharing such a touching post! Indeed Zachary is a beautiful name, well chosen in light of the circumstances. I was in New York this summer and the first thing we went to see was Ground Zero. Though we live in Israel and constantly live under the threat of terrorist attacks, my children were marked by what they saw. Also, as an English teacher, September 11th, is always dedicated to what happened and I always focus on a different story from the many stories that occurred. “We shall never forget”.

    Happy Birthday little guy!

  • Sharnel

    Such a beautiful post Amy. Happy Birthday Zac.

  • I have a nephew and a niece both born on September 11th. One born a couple of years before and one born a couple of years after 9/11. It is strange to share your birthday with such a world-changing event especially in a year like this with it being the 10 year anniversary. Happy Birthday to all September 11th babies.

  • Amy, you are so open to share with people – be it party or personal. I admire you so much for that. What a beautiful meaning your son’s name has. Our children are our legacy and you are definitely creating one to be proud of. God bless your family and all of us on this weekend and Happy Birthday to little Zachary!

  • Beautiful post Amy, 9/11 was sad & tragic day also being our wedding aniversary couldn’t celebrate it for years thinking of all the lives lost.
    God bless

  • Vesna {My Little Jedi}

    Wow Amy what a gorgeous post, thanks so much for sharing this with all of your lovely readers. Happy Birthday to your son and i absolutely adore his name. xx

  • …you made me cry…

  • Beautiful post and beautiful name for your boy. I hope he had a wonderful birthday.

  • Alexis

    My due date was September 11, 2009 and my son Zachary (as well) was born on 9.9.09. I remember just thinking please don’t come on the 11th but your little boy is a blessing and I hope he had a great birthday!