A very historic event transpired this last weekend, and I want to record my feelings about it so you know what it was like for your mama the day Osama bin Laden was killed.
But first, a very inadequate recount of September 11, 2001.
I remember I had just walked into my Productions Company class at Hillcrest High. I was probably a few minutes late. I remember seeing everyone glued to the television, with the image of one of the Twin Towers in NYC smoking. I asked what was happening and somoeone replied, “An airplane just crashed into one of the World Trade Towers…” I thought it was a joke. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could be intentional for any reason, let alone an act of terrorism. I honestly thought, in my naivite, that it must have been cloudy or something, and that the plane must not have seen the building in front of it until it was too late. We all sat and watched together, but I was still unclear about what was happening. Then we saw the second plane crash into the second building and it became very clear that it was no accident. Both Towers were ablaze. I remember seeing people—people who had gone to work that day like any other day—jumping to their deaths so they didn’t have to burn alive or be crushed by weakened ceilings and walls. I actually saw that happen. It wasn’t too long after that when both Towers crumbled to the earth, consuming everyone inside and in the vicinity.
Three thousand people died in this and several other similar attacks that day. I remember when it really sank in. It was that night after family dinner. We had been watching the news all afternoon. I remember talking to my dad about it, trying to make sense of it all–trying to really understand what was happening, trying to wrap my head around the magnitude of it. Everyone was confused. Everyone was afraid. As we were watching the news, I remember it hitting me. I began getting extremely emotional and went to dismiss myself from the room, too tormented to watch any more coverage. But I only made to the hallway before I collapsed to the floor in sobbing enlightenment of what had really happened that day. I will never forget how I wept in that moment. Your mama wasn’t very brave on that floor in the hallway.
I had never heard the name “Osama bin Laden” before that day in September of 2001. But it was quickly discovered that he and his radical Muslim organization of terrorists, “Al-Qaeda,” were the masterminds behind these and many other unspeakable acts of terrorism, and his name became one every American would never forget. Like Hitler’s.
And this past Sunday night, U.S. forces found and killed him. Ten years after 9/11. It had been so long since the first time I’d heard his name, I didn’t realize how disconnected I was from him and from that sad day the Towers came down those ten years ago. I actually found myself fairly unemotional when I heard he was dead, I hate to admit. “That’s great,” I thought to myself as I merrily cooked John a homemade meal while listening to Adele on my iPod, dressed in my name brands and smelling fresh from wearing my Tommy Girl, nice and warm in our beautiful little home–not realizing in that moment the life of privilege I lead when so many have been tortured and plundered and shattered by this man. This terrorist. But the next few days gave me time to realize what it really means that he is dead.
First and foremost, thank goodness he is dead—yes! He cannot torture and murder any more. Of course I’m grateful he is dead. I would feel un-American if I weren’t relieved at his death. And even though I have not been out celebrating like others have, I think it is so momentous that he is gone. But others have expressed great disappointment—disgust, even—in the fact that his death is being celelrated. They call it “un-Christian,” they think it’s hypocritical, they don’t like the idea of death for death, they think some who are celebrating are doing so in ignorance. To this I respond, “If someone has any energy to invest in comments like this regarding Bin Laden’s death, I don’t think they realize how evil he was.” No matter what the ethics behind killing Bin Laden may have been, yes–thank goodness that he is dead.
Your mama loves her country, baby boy, and she will not take for granted the fact that she gets to raise you in this wonderful land, with so many resources and blessings and so much comfort. And if the death of this one man can lead to more people feeling safe and feeling blessed the way we feel, then I can’t think of anything worth celebrating more.