A few months ago, Julia Fournier found herself revisiting the events of 9/11 at a central Phoenix eatery called the Tuck Shop. The manager there was telling Fournier how his niece had been born in a Montana hospital sometime between the crashing of the two World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Apparently, the doctors had a hard time rallying the medical team, who were glued to the TV as the structures disintegrated into gray sand.
The story reminded Fournier of something. Specifically, November 22, 1963, when Fournier's sister was born. "My mom was looking up at these doctors who were crying, thinking something was wrong with the pregnancy. Then she found out that JFK had been shot," recalls Fournier.
The Tuck Shop manager continued the story about his niece, fast-forwarding a year to September 11, 2002, where the family went to the park to celebrate the toddler's first birthday. The celebration was like any other kid's birthday party, complete with a big ol' colorful cake that the little girl probably slopped into her hair and all over her clothes.
However, a stranger didn't fancy the festivities. A man came up to the family and scolded them for publicly welcoming the baby into the world a year after the fact, a day that happened to be exactly one year after 9/11. "How dare you celebrate on this day?" the man angrily asked the family before storming off.
This got Fournier thinking. What if she could find kids born on September 11, 2001, and collect their stories as well as tales and experiences from the parents? One thing that especially interested Fournier was learning when the child realized that a majority of people associated his or her birthday with such an emotionally-sensitive event in this country's history, and what that must feel like.
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The result is the 911 Cakeday blog. Still very much in its infancy, Fournier, a career teacher of more than 30 years, hopes to collect photos and testimonials from those who will turn nine years old on September 11, 2010. (At the time of writing, the blog had just three entries and one comment.)
Alongside the blog project, Fournier hopes to create a 9/11-themed exhibit on the day's tenth anniversary based on the information that she's able to collect. She plans to pitch the show idea to several Phoenix-area museums and galleries, even though she's experienced minimal success with 911 Cakeday so far.
Fournier says, "I've told about 50 people [about the exhibit idea] and nobody has reached out. I'm just going to plug along and keep reaching out."
She adds, "It seems close, though."