09/11/11 — Sept. 11's children

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Sept. 11's children

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 11, 2011 12:58 AM

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Jaelynn Sviglin-Krell was born a day before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She says that for years she hated her birthday because it was associated with such a fateful day.

Turning 10 years old is a big deal.

Double-digits. Moving toward young adulthood.

But for the generation of children born around 9/11, the 10-year anniversary looms large and in some cases, has overshadowed what should be a celebratory time.

"I used to hate my birthday, because it was around such a scary day," said Jaelynn Sviglin-Krell, who was born on Sept. 10, 2001.

"All I remember is when I was growing up and when I was about 4 or 5, I heard about the Twin Towers in New York," said Trevor Anderson, whose birthday came a few weeks later, on Sept. 25 of that year. "I was a little bit scared of my birthday."

As he has gotten older, he has become less afraid and is now "completely over it" because he understands the accounts of that day and is able to keep the two separate.

"Friends helped," he says now. "They, like, helped me and supported me and so did my parents and my older sister. My sister used to tell me stories and she told me not to be scared."

For the parents, though, the story is different. Sept. 11 left its mark.

In 2001, Angela Stevenson and Lina Krell, both military wives, were living in England when their children were born. They were not acquainted and now both their children are fourth-graders at Meadow Lane Elementary School.

Being overseas during the terrorist attack presented its own set of problems, the women say.

"Basically we were told not to travel at all," Mrs. Stevenson said. "We were told that once our child was born that we needed to go to London to secure a passport immediately because we didn't know what was going to happen.

"We were really kind of worried about being told that we would have to leave the country."

Originally from South Carolina, Mrs. Anderson said she and her husband, Scott, had arranged for her mother to come over and help when the baby was born. That was before all flights were grounded.

"When she finally did get on a plane, there were only three people on the plane," Mrs. Anderson said. "It was one of the first flights. We were all scared to death."

The aftermath was also frightening, she said. When it came time for Trevor to be born -- the couple already had an 11-year-old daughter, Bethany, who was attending a British school -- she recalls a truck carrying three Iraqis seeking asylum being driven through the area.

"A person from SWAT came up to the labor and delivery ward, told us to go get our babies and lock ourselves in the bathroom," she said. "I saw a Humvee, a guy on the top with a big machine gun, I think it was, SWAT people running down the streets with shields and masks.

"We were going to be released from the hospital later that night. It was just so nerve-wracking, all the travel."

The experience, she says, "changed the way you thought about everything."

"Things that you never thought would be possible, things that you never thought you would have to see," she said. "That was one thing about the British newspapers, a lot of them ran pictures of people jumping out of the windows -- they don't censor their photography like we do. Because of that, you would see pictures over there that you would never have seen in the U.S. It was much more graphic and just unbelievable."

Mrs. Krell and her husband, Jason, had been in England for about a year with their 3-year-old and were anticipating the birth of their second child. Jaelynn was scheduled to be delivered by C-section on Sept. 11 but that was moved up a day. Mrs. Krell was in the hospital when the news from the U.S. broke.

"We saw it on TV. We didn't know exactly what was going on and the hospital, the whole base, was on shutdown," Mrs. Krell said. "No one could come on the base, no one could go off. All the windows, all the blinds were closed. All the markings on public roads were covered. It was complete lockdown.

"It was like that for three or four days. We were able to leave the base (when we were discharged) but it was still only mandatory people allowed on base."

It was not an easy place to live after that, she said.

"They had riots after Sept. 11 when (President) Bush decided to defend ourselves," she said. "Plus they didn't like the French, but put up French flags, siding with them. They were totally against us until the terrorist attack on London. Then, they loved Americans."

Her daughter is aware of the symbolic attachment her birthday holds, but not everyone else makes the immediate connection, Mrs. Krell said. Usually, she explained, when Jaelynn replies that her birthday is on Sept. 10, the response is, "Oh, that's close to Sept. 11."

"Most people don't realize it's the same year, but when they do, they're always curious -- what was I doing, what was going on?" Mrs. Krell said.

"She knows her birthday will always correlate. We always told her it wasn't just a terrorist attack, it was a way to bring our country together. So that way she doesn't always think of her birthday as a negative time."

"Also, my dad says I'm kind of connected to it and I'm really interested in it. I like learning about it," Jaelynn said.

Both Trevor and Jaelynn have taken a keen interest in the events of the era that coincides with their birthdays.

"I like watching the movie, memories of 9/11 and videos of 9/11," said Jaelynn. "But I'm still kind of scared. Osama bin Laden's dead, but last year we were watching CNN student news and there's a new leader. They might do something this year because it's the 10-year anniversary and they're rebuilding the Trade Center."

Angus Dove, a student at St. Mary School, was born Oct. 29, 2001.

"People took over planes and then they crashed them into buildings," he explained of his earliest awareness of what took place on Sept. 11. "I have seen things on the news about it and stories."

His mom, Liz Dove already had three young daughters, now 11, 13 and 15, and was due with Angus at the time of the terrorist attacks.

"I was in the gym on the treadmill. I know exactly where I was" when the news broke, she said. "I think immediately you wanted to know where your kids were, that everybody you knew was safe and accounted for. ...

"It was a very, very sad day. It was upsetting. It made you mad that somebody would do something like this, the vulnerability that maybe you hadn't felt, at least in my lifetime."

Living in Goldsboro, though, with an Air Force base nearby, provided a sense of security, she noted.

"I had faith in our country and in our leadership that this was something that wouldn't happen again," she said.

The ominous event is something her son grew up with.

"He's certainly aware it. We have talked about it," she said. "It's not something we have dwelled on."

A couple of years ago, the family visited the memorial at the Pentagon, a moving experience that made quite an impression.

"They made steel benches outside and they aligned them by age order -- like how old they were, those that died, from the Pentagon and the people in the planes, too," Angus said.

Langley Barnes, now a fifth-grader at Wayne Country Day School, was born months before the events, in April 2001. When September rolled around, she and her 2-year-old sister accompanied mom, Nicole, to visit their grandparents in New Orleans.

Mrs. Barnes admits she was hesitant to fly back to Goldsboro, so she waited for husband, Donnie, to join her and make the return trip as a family.

From the experience, though, she says she gained a deeper appreciation for safety and this country.

"I think (9/11) created and fostered patriotism that maybe didn't exist before or maybe didn't exist the way it does today. I think we took a lot for granted," she said, explaining that previous generations, especially those born after world wars, had grown up with more of an ingrained sense of patriotism.

Her children have a "mild understanding" of what took place 10 years ago, Mrs. Barnes said, and this past year, on a family trip to New York, they visited the World Trade Center memorial site.

"I have been to the place where it happened and I have heard stories about that and it was really neat to see the sites of it," Langley said. "Today I heard a story about a man who almost left the building and he saved 30 people. He was willing to die because if he saved 30 people and only one died, he was willing to sacrifice himself."

To be at the site of the former World Trade Center evoked some big thoughts from the little girl, who was only 4 months old at the time it imploded.

"To just imagine that there were tall buildings there, it was devastating, but it was also a great experience because I got to actually see where it happened and where the people were when it happened," she said.

Like all parents who aspire to ensure their children have a safe and happy childhood, those who are now products of the 9/11 era have worked especially hard to celebrate the occasion of their birth and not allow it to be overshadowed by the somber events that took place.

Each of the children indicated they still had big plans for celebrating the big 1-0.

Langley already had a skating party in the spring, her mom said.

"I'm going to have a paintball party on base with all my friends," Trevor said.

Jaelynn planned a sleepover at her house with a few girlfriends, and going to the movies.

And Angus is looking forward to going to an ice skating rink and eating at a "nice restaurant that I like a lot."