The Babies of 9/11: “That Boy Is Going to Be Special”
Amid the tragedies of September 11, 2001, came hope—in the faces of children born that day. Six years later, six families look back and talk about their 9/11 babies.
Susannah and Jorge Herrada, with Dylan and Abigail, have talked to their son about the plane crash in Pennsylvania. Says Susannah: “I hope he knows what heroes are.”
Ask Dylan Herrada about the day he was born and he’ll tell you: “The planes crashed. There were three bad-guy planes. The good guys tried to drive the bad-guy plane toward the field.”
The kindergartner, who wants to be a spy when he grows up, learned about September 11 from PBS’s Reading Rainbow. His mother, Susannah, was relieved: She wasn’t sure how she’d ever bring it up.
Dylan was the first child for Susannah and her husband, Jorge, who live in Arlington. He arrived at 1:35 pm at Virginia Hospital Center, about four hours after American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Susannah was watching the news in the delivery room: “I made them turn off the television after the second tower was hit.”
A few hours later, the baby’s heart rate dropped and doctors performed an emergency C-section. Dylan was a healthy seven pounds with a full head of hair. People rarely brought up the terrorist attacks around Susannah: “They didn’t want to upset me.” Still, she says, “I remember standing outside the bathroom crying.”
Neighbors the Herradas barely knew came to see Dylan in the hospital. “People just needed something positive,” says Jorge, a computer programmer. He later wrote to Dylan in a diary he keeps for him: “You were a bright spot in the midst of a difficult day.”
Some people tell Susannah they’re sorry when they hear about Dylan’s birthday. “At the pool somebody said, ‘The 9/11?’ ”
A Chinese herbalist comforted her when he said the spirits of the victims would reenter babies like Dylan. Because so many special people died that day, he said, “that boy is going to be a special boy.”
Photograph by Simon Bruty.