The Numbers

Americans write the date in the format “Month/Day/Year,” so today’s date is one of those fun sequences (10/11/12) that makes a memorable birthday or wedding anniversary. I have a friend whose birthday is 11/11, so last year’s fell on 11/11/11. I think I probably know someone on the Facebook who has the birthday 12/12, but if I can search by birthday on the Facebook I do not know how. The 12 months of our calendar and 30 or 31 days within are pretty arbitrary anyway; a 52 week year breaks evenly into 13 four-week-long months, so why don’t we add a month?
I know a bunch of folks with birthdays which fall on other holidays, like Halloween and Christmas, dictating not only the color of the wrapping paper of every gift of their whole lives, but also over-shadowing their anniversaries. No doubt there were children born on a December 7th in the 1930s for whom the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor forever ruined their birthdays. I have a couple of friends who were born on September 11th.
Church Street, TriBeCa, September 11th, 2012
On September 11, 1857, something like 120 Arkansas emigrants were murdered by Mormons and either Paiute Indians or some folks dressed up to look like them. There many different accounts of this story, and you might be interested to compare this one to others you can find.
September 11, 1971 marks the death of Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor. Khrushchev is famous for a shoe-banging incident at the U.N. and for warning us all that “We will bury you!” and, “Your children will be communists,” which Barry Goldwater used in his political television ads for his run for President of the United States. In 1959, Khrushchev visited the United States, and if you have 5 minutes you should watch this.
My childhood neighborhood friend with the braids was married on a September 11, in the 80s, in a ceremony in the old Catholic cathedral in downtown St. Louis. I was one of many bridesmaids, all in mint green taffeta, and I remember being very hot while we were kneeling and standing and kneeling and standing. 
That same day, September 11, 1987, in St. Andrews, a suburb of Kingston, Jamaica, the reggae musician known as Peter Tosh was shot and killed in his home. He was 42. A lively retelling of this brutal murder can be read here.
 The morning of September 11, 2001, I was eating breakfast in our kitchen in Seattle with all three kids, getting ready to go to school. The phone rang. It was my mother, explaining that she knew I didn’t watch TV but I better turn it on because something was happening in New York.
We had a small TV in the kitchen, and we turned it on in time to see the footage of the first tower engulfed and collapsing as well as footage of the second tower being hit. My children were very young, and unaccustomed to TV news, and did not know what they were looking at was real. While I was trying to explain to them that it was something serious and bad, the phone rang. It was a friend who mis-dialed another, mutual friend, with a similar number. A native New Yorker, the caller was completely distraught; I wonder if she even remembers calling me that day.
Last year was the tenth anniversary of the attack, and though we were living in North Dreadful, it was observed with a ceremony at the public school with solemnity and formality. My youngest son missed this event completely, thanks to a stomach ache.
This year, we live within view of the new towers under construction. There is a memorial at the site of the now missing towers, but I still have not visited it yet. I was awestruck by the two towers of light shining there the two nights of the 10th and the 11th which I find a fitting memorial: abstract, quiet and ephemeral, requiring no tickets or online registration.
  

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