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Local girl describes what it's like to have a birthday on 9/11

911 twin towers.jpg

MADISON, Wis. - September 11 is a day that we will never forget.

But for 15-year-old Claire Orlikowski, it's a day she was never around to remember. Orlikowski was born three years after the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2004.

"Since I never experienced it, I never felt a sense of reality," she said.

Orlikowski said she learned about 9/11 when she was in second and third grade. After that, she said it wasn't really talked about in school.

"They felt like maybe if they taught about it every year, people already knew a lot about it," Orlikowski said.

It's a day that's always been bittersweet for her. Orlikowski said sharing a birthday with a day that carries such heavy emotions for the rest of the country is tough because it's a day that she will never be able to reflect on.

"It's definitely really weird to be celebrating while so many other people are remembering and mourning."

Orlikowski 's mom, Sarah Orlikowski, felt the same at first.

"She was my first child so to have that be the due date was a little like, 'Ehh... kind of an ominous due date.' People would ask when is she due and I'd say Sept. 11 and they would be like, 'Oh.'"

But as the years go by, Sarah Orlikowski said she acknowledges that it's an important day to take a moment to remember. For all the parents who gave a life on a day when so many other parents lost one close to them, Sarah Orlikowski said that having a child on 9/11 "felt like a new life is a really beautiful symbol of hope."

Moving forward while still remembering, in whatever way someone chooses, is all anyone can really do.

"If it's tied to your birthday it gives you a really personal connection to it even if you weren't alive during that time," Sarah Orlikowski said.

Orlikowski turned 15 this year. She said as she learns more about what happened on her birthday 18 years ago, "I realize the scope of the tragedy and how momentous it was."

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