After 30 hours in labor, Patricia Rodriguez had no idea what day it was. Then in the wee hours Monday, she realized she was giving birth to her first child on the most infamous date in recent American memory.
"It hit me and I said to my husband, 'I can't believe it.' At first it's an instinctive feeling of what a horrible day it was," said Rodriguez, 24, a San Jose medical assistant who welcomed healthy, six-pound, six-ounce Melisenda into the world, two weeks early, on Sept. 11, 2006 -- at 8:45 a.m.
But between labor pains, as Rodriguez watched the commemorations of the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, her feelings changed. She thought about the firefighters and cops and airline passengers who fought back that day. Finally, she realized that Monday's anniversary was not only about loss, but about life going forward.
"It's bringing new life into this world,'' she said from her hospital bed at Mountain View's El Camino Hospital. "It can be a blessing being born on Sept. 11.''
Like Rodriguez, residents across the Bay Area met the anniversary of the worst attack on American soil with a mixture of sadness and resilience.
Alice Hoagland of San Jose, whose son Mark Bingham died on United Flight 93, talked of the warmth she felt while visiting the memorial site in rural Pennsylvania on Monday.
"In many ways it's joyful, because you see other families and the local people who have been so helpful and respectful," Hoagland said. "People stop you on the street and tell you that you are in their hearts and prayers."
For some, the world has grown so accustomed to the impact of the attacks that the day seemed almost normal. . .
But for Muslim Americans, the impact of the day has only grown in five years, with a spike in hate crimes and national leaders invoking a new term, ''Islamic fascists,'' to cast the war on terror.
"This is a tragedy that occurred on many levels in the Muslim community, especially American Muslims. Our country was attacked. Innocents died," said Sameena Usman, public relations coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of the San Francisco Bay Area. "On another level, there is the backlash the Muslim community has faced after the event."
The organization planned an interfaith dialogue Monday night in a Campbell Christian church as part of numerous remembrances around the Bay Area.