For most of us, including myself, 9-11 brings back a flood of horrible memories. The shock of seeing the towers burning for the first time, the anger of realizing someone had done this on purpose and the fear over what would happen next. For me I have one more complicated memory that is added to the mix, absolute joy!

Why joy you ask? Well, that night in the wee hours of the morning, my oldest daughter was born to the world. Being there for the birth of my oldest daughter, Madisyn, is one of my most cherished memories, but, unfortunately, it will always be tainted with the stinging memory of 9-11.

That September was also the first year of law school for me, so things were already hectic and insane. I was very paranoid to miss any class or get behind in the readings (all law students are type A like that) so, after the birth of our daughter, and after I made sure that she was in safe and capable hands with my wife and mother, I decided to leave the hospital and go back up to the lawschool to finish some studying and get ready for class.

So, at about 4:00 a.m., fresh from the elation of just having had our first daughter come into the world, I drove up to the law school and locked myself in the library to do a marathon session of reading and studying. As was my habit, right before class started I would always check and to see what was going on, then pack up my books and laptop and head to the lecture. I thought it was strange that I was unable to access either site. I thought, perhaps the school’s network was having issues and didn’t think much of it. So, I walked to class, but as I walked through the lobby of the lawschool I saw they had a television out and people were crowded around it (it was about 9:00 MST, so this would have been about 11:00 EST). My first thought as I saw the two buildings on fire was “My Dear Lord, New York is on fire!”. Of course, as I sat there bewildered I found out the true story.

My wife then called me from her hospital room, it seems she had just turned on the television and was watching the news. Bless her sweet heart she asked me, “Bryan, what is terrorism, they say this was a terrorist attack”. My poor sweet Idaho farmgirl of a wife had never really paid much attention to world events and she honestly was not too sure about what the whole point of terrorism was and had no clue of who Osama Bin Laden was. I sat there, still stunned, and tried to explain why someone would do this, but I really had no good answer.

In the years since, my wife, myself, indeed the whole world have become much more familiar with terrorism as we realized that fundamental Islam was going to have a real impact on all of our lives. We realized, as JFK once famously said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” or, we realized that day that no matter where you might live in the world, that day we were all Americans. We were all Americans and we are still all Americans (metaphorically) because if we do not hang together in the fight against radical Islam, we shall all surely hang separately (or be beheaded separately).

So, to my daughter I say happy birthday, it’s hard to believe that you are 8 years old and that you have to share this terrible time with such a terrible memory. This day of true infamy will long live in our memories with bitterness, but for myself, and my wife, there is this sense of joy that we also share. I also want to say to my daughter that your birthday will always stand as a firm reminder of why we support our troops and those who stand between Islamic fundamentalism and our way of life. God bless our troops and God bless this country.

P.S. I don’t know what this means in a cosmic sense, but my 2nd oldest daughter was born the day before Pearl Harbor Day, so beware when a McAffee girl is born, it is an ominous sign. Of course, our third daughter (Reagan) was born on Ronald Reagan’s birthday, so we have that going for us!