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Pasco family has a birthday to remember

April Culbertson sat in her sun-soaked Pasco kitchen on a recent late summer afternoon and unfolded a delicately embroidered wall hanging someone made for her baby shower 10 years ago.

Stitched into white linen is a Carl Sandberg quote: "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

Her daughter's birth date is underneath -- 9/11/01.

"How perfect is that?" she said.

While much of America came to a horrified standstill as TVs everywhere repeated images of the day's devastating terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., April and Bruce Culbertson's world had to go on. Life literally had to go on.

The couple woke early that morning to prepare for their daughter Shaye's arrival in the world. They had scheduled an induced labor, and were busy getting ready to go to the hospital when Bruce turned on the news and learned an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center's twin towers.

The news was shocking, but in the confusion of those early minutes many people thought the crash was an accident -- that it must be an accident. The idea that it was an attack was unthinkable.

By the time the Culbertsons dropped their then-2-year-old son off at a babysitter in Kennewick, the second plane had hit the south tower, and America was coming to grips with the truth of what was happening.

"My husband wanted to stay and watch the news," April said.

She had other ideas. April had a baby to deliver, so she tore Bruce away from the TV coverage. But images of the towers falling would punctuate the next several hours until Shaye was born about 6 p.m.

The mood in the hospital that day was somber.

"It was almost like a movie. It didn't seem real," she said.

"I remember being up and down -- watching what happened in New York, but wanting to welcome our daughter and be happy about that," Bruce said.

As the years have gone by, April and Bruce continue to have mixed feelings about that day. As they have raised Shaye, they have talked about the historic events on the day of her birth -- but they also have made it clear to their daughter that it was a good day for their family, and that good things happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

And they have made sure that Shaye's birthday is a day that is unique and special to her. This year, for example, they are taking her to Seattle to visit family, and for a trip to the American Girl doll store to celebrate a new My American Girl doll, Kanani of Hawaii.

The Culbertsons said that as parents, 9/11 made them more aware of their childrens' surroundings, and of teaching them to cherish their freedoms.

"I think it has helped us to teach our kids to be more thankful and respectful of the people who provide the freedoms we have," Bruce said.

"The flip side for our kids is that the freedoms we have are so great that on the other side of the world there are people who either celebrate them or want to tear them down."

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