As the country marked milestones of the Sept. 11 tragedy, the Canfield parents marked milestones of their son's first year of life.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- As Vincent Armeni toddles with a plastic car, he doesn't realize that his red-white-and-blue polo shirt shows off the colors of American patriotism.
He also doesn't know that, as he blows out the candle on his first birthday cake Sept. 11, the rest of the nation will be remembering its most tragic day.
"How could you ignore that day? But we're happy for our Vincent, huh?" said Vincent's mother Alyssa, looking at her 5-year-old son, Nicholas. "I think it's going to be a serious mood that day. And it should be a happy mood."
Vincent, who is starting to walk, grins as he dumps a plastic bucket of sidewalk chalk on the living room floor and tries to eat a purple piece.
Giggles erupt from Nicholas, who watches from a chair.
Alyssa Armeni said she's heard that when God wants someone to know something positive is happening, he sends a baby. That's how she feels about Vincent's birth.
"I suppose that's the positive of the day," she said. "We always say, 'What a weird circle of life.' All those lives were taken away and we were given a healthy baby."
The country felt itself change and Alyssa Armeni also saw her family change from three members to four.
As the mother received various e-mails marking the three-month, six-month, nine-month anniversaries of the Sept. 11 attacks, she and her husband, Rob, marked the milestones of their child's first year of life.
Alyssa Armeni said the magnitude of the terrorist attacks didn't hit her at first. She had been working Sept. 11, 2001, as a medical social worker in the rehabilitation unit of St. Elizabeth Health Center.
She saw the press coverage of planes slicing into the World Trade Center towers and the fiery hole in the Pentagon.
Then, around 1:30 p.m., she was on her way to the labor and delivery unit. Her husband met her there. Vincent was born at 5:40 p.m.
Residents in her room were watching television as she became acquainted with her new child. She asked them to turn it off.
"I didn't want to deal with it that day," she said. "I was in my own little world."
Rob Armeni remembers watching the morning terrorist attacks as he cared for patients at Travco Rehabilitation Center in Boardman. Then, for several hours, he was able to forget the fiery images and focus on his new son.
"It puts a positive spin on the day," he said. "It was a crazy day, a bittersweet day."
Once the birth was over, he said, it was back to reality.
Alyssa Armeni said it took her a couple months to begin dealing with the tragedy. Still, whenever there's a mention of Sept. 11, it's with a negative connotation.
When she gives her son's birth date, people respond with, "Oh, my gosh."
Friends have said, "I was just hoping you wouldn't have the baby that day."
But the mother looks at Vincent's blue eyes and blond hair and tells of his affectionate nature, and she sees goodness in Sept. 11.
"He's so sweet, his little smile," she said. "And Nicholas has just been wonderful with him.
"I guess it's just different for me because I had a baby that day. ... It wasn't terrible. That's when God chose for him to be born."
Rob Armeni said Sept. 11 was probably "the craziest day of my life."
"It was a more positive day than negative because we had the boy," he said.
Like his new brother, Nicholas doesn't understand the Sept. 11 tragedy either, his mother said. When asked about Osama bin Laden, he responds, "He's a bad guy."
As for the coverage of the fiery Trade Center Towers: "It should just be a TV show."
Alyssa and Rob Armeni said they wonder how Vincent will react when he learns about his birth date in school history books and how he'll feel when the date is commemorated, on his birthday, at school.
Alyssa Armeni worries as she raises children in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
"It's a scary world. What are they going to have to face when they get older?" she asks. "... But they're the future. So, hopefully something positive will come out of it."
Vincent, she said, means "conqueror."
For today, he's conquering the span of the living room floor. Tomorrow, he'll conquer frosting on that birthday cake.
And his mother wonders what will happen next.
"I do feel bad because it's such a negative event that happened in our history," she said. "But I always say maybe he can be the positive. Who knows? Maybe he's destined for something big."