Tandra Rolland has talked to her son, Barry Cody, about race. She also told him the day he was born was a day when the country overcame its divisions.
“I let him know, on that day we were all Americans,” she said.
At 7 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Tandra was driving to the BP gas station in Olde Towne, where she worked as a cashier. She was pregnant and due in two weeks. Before she got to work, her water broke. She drove herself to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
It was the first of many surprises. By chance, a childhood friend was also delivering a baby across the hall.
Then, Tandra’s mother, who works at the hospital, told them something was happening and turned on the TV.
Tandra doesn’t remember her labor pains. She remembers seeing the twin towers fall, people screaming and the smoke.
Her sister, Natasha Rolland said, “As she was pushing, everyone was watching TV. Even Tandra was trying to watch.”
The delivery came easily. But guilt overshadowed Tandra’s joy.
“It made me feel like, was I even wrong for being so happy because I was just had my firstborn,” Tandra said, “or should I be sympathetic towards the people who lost those near and dear to them?”
Despite the gravity of the day’s events, the tight-knit relatives kept spirits light within the hospital room.
“We’re silly people,” Tandra said. “My mother was getting on me about how, with all this chaos and disaster, this baby was ready to come on into the world.”
In a family where everyone gets a nickname, Barry’s became “bin,” the one who blew into the world at the same time Osama bin Laden blew up the World Trade Center towers.
Barry is a child who gets along easily with everybody and has always operated at a level that seemed beyond his years. He has been reading since he was 3 or 4 and has developed a vocabulary that challenges his mother with spelling advice. Tests rate him as gifted.
He loves baseball, basketball and football and follows the teams and players. He looks up to Martin Luther King, because he “gave freedom to African-Americans.”
Tandra thinks fate had a hand in her son’s birth. She calculated that the planes hit the towers at nearly the same time she went into labor.
“They say when one life comes into the world, another one leaves. So, that always had me wondering if all those people traded their lives so that our babies could be born, exactly born on that day.”