Legacy of 9/11: Family reflects on birth of son on Sept. 11, 2001
LEHI, Utah — On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we looked back at ways that historic moment affected Utahns.
For one Lehi family, their newborn entered the world in the midst of chaos and fear, but also, feelings of hope and unity.
KSL’s Jed Boal spoke with them two decades ago and talked with them again Friday about that day and the growth of their family since then.
20 years ago, I interviewed Cheryl and Josh Felt about their baby boy born on September 11, 2001. Tonight at six @KSL5TV I catch up with the Felts to talk with them about what became of their dreams for their son after that fateful day. You’ll also hear from Alex. #ksltv pic.twitter.com/G2EdBlQ1Eb
— Jed Boal (@jedboal) September 10, 2021
“I sat there and held the baby and watched the news, and it didn’t seem very real.”
That’s what Cheryl Felt said 20 years ago, a couple of days after she gave birth to her first child, a 9/11 baby boy they named Alexander.
Today, she has a little bit of a different perspective.
“It didn’t really sink in, especially on the day he was born,” she said Friday morning, looking back at the magnitude of that day.
September 11, 2001 was overwhelming and frightening for a lot of Americans.
Cheryl and Josh Felt had only been parents for a number of hours when the first plane struck.
“The nurse who had been with me through the delivery, she came in and she said, ‘I know you told me you didn’t want the television on, but I think you need to see what’s happening,'” said Cheryl.
So, she turned on the news and discovered what all of America was glued to that day.
It was a somber day as family visited the hospital, but the Felts took comfort in the joy they were experiencing with the delivery of their son.
“A crazy day,” said Josh. “But, we tried to become a family after that with our first child.”
Several months later, Cheryl remembers holding Alex when she saw that America had gone to war in Afghanistan.
“I think that was the first time that I really understood the seriousness and the long-lasting affects of what that would be,” she said. “I remember holding him and crying that day.”
She knew the world had changed, and she wasn’t so sure what it would be like raising this child, or future children.
The Felts named their baby Alexander, which means helper and defender of mankind.
“He’s a hard worker and he’s very dedicated,” Cheryl said of her son. “When he picks something, he’s going to stick with it.”
He was a dedicated swimmer, who grew head and shoulders above his peers.
Today, he’s 6’6” and living up to his name.
“He’s a physically large child to be a protector and defender, and he has younger siblings, so he’s had that opportunity,” Cheryl said. “But, we told him when he was young that it was his job to protect everyone smaller than he was, and he’s done a good job with that.”
Alex is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany.
His parents called him Friday morning to wish him a happy birthday.
“I probably thought a lot more about it and its effects than most of my peers,” Alex said in that call.
He learned about 9/11 at home, but the importance didn’t sink in until he was nine and learned more at school.
“It definitely deserves a good amount of respect, just for what happened that day,” he said. “But, no, I don’t think it should be sad. Looking at what happened afterwards, it really united the American people in kind of in a unique way.”
In recent days on his mission, in an interesting twist of time, he helped serve Afghan refugees at Ramstein Air Base.
“We were serving meals when I realized that, ‘Oh, this is kind of the end of what started 20 years ago,'” said Alex.
The first few years, the Felts did not celebrate his birthday on 9/11 because it was just too somber. But, his birthday gradually became a more meaningful day for all Americans, and Alex.
“I think it’s given him something to reflect on and to build on,” said Josh.
“He’s doing what he can where he is: feeding Afghan refugees, helping with flood recovery,” said Cheryl. “Those are opportunities he’s been given.”
Those opportunities are helping him become the man his parents hoped he would be.
But, has that birth date made a difference?
“Yes, absolutely,” Cheryl said.
Because this was their message to their son 20 years ago: “You carry hopes for a better world for a lot of people with you.”
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