"It just doesn’t feel appropriate to me to celebrate on a day when the nation is mourning and when people's lives were completely changed forever," Brendan tells PEOPLE

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated September 09, 2016 03:15 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Kathleen Kauth

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Unlike most teens his age, Brendan Kauth-Fisher has decided to forgo a celebration on his 15th birthday this year.

The sophomore at Millard West High School in Omaha, Nebraska, was born on September 11, 2001 – and he says it’s never felt “quite right” to throw a party in his honor on that day.

“It just doesn’t feel appropriate to me to celebrate when the nation is mourning and when people’s lives were completely changed forever,” Brendan tells PEOPLE. “It’s something that as I got older, I realized the gravity of what happened.”

So on Sunday, instead of having a party, Brendan will spend his day volunteering at a First Responders Foundation event in Omaha put on to commemorate those lost in the tragedy.

“The tragedy never affected my directly, but I feel connected to the day because it’s my birthday,” he says. “This was the right thing to do.”

Brendan’s mother, Kathleen Kauth, says she is “so, so proud” of her son for choosing to dedicate his special day to remembering lost lives.

“He made the choice, because he sees it as a day of remembrance and he wants to honor those who died,” Kauth, 46, tells PEOPLE. “As he got older and began to learn about what happened on the day he was born, he knew he wanted to give back in some way.”

Kauth actually planned her son’s September 11, 2001 birth date with her husband, Andrew Fisher, a month in advance.

“My older sister and grandmother were both born on that day and we had a labor induction scheduled to happen on September 11, because Brendan was getting too big too quickly,” she explains. “We thought it would be a nice family tradition to have him born on that day.”

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But Brendan says when he tells people his birthday is on 9/11, “they either say sorry or are at a loss for words.”

After high school, Brendan plans on enrolling in an ROTC program in college and eventually joining the Army.

“I want to protect my country,” says Brendan, whose father was in the Army Reserve. “I want to make my country and my dad proud, he was deployed after the 9/11 attacks to Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

“I don’t like that my birthday is on 9/11, but I feel like it’s led me to my path in life.”