A special report interrupted some drivel I was watching on TV Sunday evening. What could be so important right now? I thought.
The announcement to follow still stuns me: “Osama bin Laden has been found and killed,” George Stephanopoulos announced.
“What?” I asked Matthew. Had I heard right? “Wow. I never thought we’d see the day.”
“Right!” was all he could say.
We sat in silence for the next 30 minutes awaiting the president’s speech to confirm the truth.
Within minutes, news stations showed people breaking out all over the nation in “patriotic” assemblage. In front of the White House, they congregated with a mash of signs, waving flags and cheering. People began flocking to Ground Zero at the corner of Church and Vesey streets in New York City, singing “God Bless America.” Monday morning, pictures of people around the world emerged, reading front page news: “Laden killed by U.S. forces.”
I can’t say I have as much passion for the death of a man—even given the wretched circumstances for which he was killed. I do harbor disbelief that it took a decade to find him. It’s mind-blowing of the time that has elapsed, the death of so many people, not only including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but the war thereafter that took the lives of so many troops and innocent civilians. Yes, war is ugly. Yes, retaliation was inevitable after 9/11. But, no, I am not turning this commentary into a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t rant about our government.
“Yes, they captured him … only AFTER 10 years!” I’ve already heard. Sometimes, we don’t live in tidy “Law and Order” episodes, where the bad guys get caught in under an hour.
Still, I can’t say I am “happy” about this man’s captivation and destined death; I guess revenge isn’t my makeup. Nor is celebrating his demise. No, I don’t want him hiding out, causing more harm to people who are just living their lives. I also won’t jeer him, under any scenario.
The immediate outpouring of thoughts and feelings from around the world cannot be matched as I write this. Immediate praise, disdain, honor, gratefulness and relief are only a few ways to describe the effects caused by this man’s death.
In digging deep for my own feelings, bin Laden’s vile hatred for others is so ravage, so misappropriated, that it’s hard to comprehend. And I can’t match it—an eye for an eye. Again, I don’t feel happy he was taken down in a violent firefight. That’s my humanity. But I am obliged by the men and women who have brought justice to some 3,000 deaths we all endured on American soil on 9/11. I am especially hopeful that peace will be brought to all the families and friends who have had to live through the loss of their loved ones over and over again upon the mere mention of al Qaeda, 9/11, bin Laden and the like.
More importantly, I feel like our government has restored some inkling of hope—hope I lost over the last 10 years. While I could easily say it’s nice to see “the good guys win,” the fact is, this is far from over. Perhaps the joviality is premature.
Thoughts posted on Facebook from encore readers and Wilmingtonians on the news of Osama bin Laden’s death:
Steve Miller: “I feel relieved that there can be some closure for the people that have lost someone in the ‘war on terror’; however, bin Laden was one man, and I feel that his ideals will long outlive him. I don’t want to downplay the fact that he died at the hands of American soldiers. I feel that in itself is a great victory for us. I can only hope that this news will bring the U.S. together like after the 9/11 attacks. God Bless the U.S.A!”
Jeanette Mallard: “Need proof!”
Chrissy McCauley: “Ding dong, the bastard’s dead!”
Anghus Houvouras: “Someone else already said it better than me, so I’ll repost:
‘Wish we weren’t celebrating this so obnoxiously. There is a solemnity to this that many of us are missing. Killing a bad person, while perhaps justified and perhaps necessary, is still killing and should be undertaken and executed with a sober tone. It isn’t an occasion to dance or do keg stands.
You kill a man like Osama bin Laden because he forces you to. You do it because you must.
Life should never be given or taken cheaply, and the taking of a life is not a time for celebration.’”
Alex Holland: “Obama getting it done!”
Fritzi Huber: “I couldn’t help but think of all the students I have (and others have) who are 10 years old or younger. This has been the climate of their lives.”
Sullivan Anlyan Dunn: “My cousin was wondering if Trump would demand a death certificate.”
Rebecca Verlangieri: “Both elation and fear. Utter humility and appreciation for our troops. Grateful that the families of thousands have some sense of justice. On the other hand; How will his followers retaliate? Did he have a plan in place in the event of his death?”
Christi Ferretti: “I wanna have a parade!”
Shawna Kenney: “Can our troops come home now?”
Jennifer Lenna Ferzola: “It’s about freaking time!”
Morgan McGuire: “I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” —Mark Twain
Amanda Brown: “Justice has been served! Way to go Navy Seals!”
Carly Yansak: “We needed a win right now (and so did Obama), and it is a measure of justice for those who died. But it still doesn’t mean our troops can come home. Justice for thousands but still a catch 22 for thousands more.
Crow Hill: “We were there when it happened; it changed our lives in ways we never thought possible. We understand the party-like atmosphere in NYC, DC, PA for the places hit it is a much-needed release. For the whole nation, it is one huge check mark on the USA’s ‘to-do’ list. We lost a lot of friends that day. We will never forget the feeling of the city the weeks after; the smells, lack of sound, blank faces or the courage of average people going above and beyond for strangers. Rejoice today, prepare for tomorrow!”
Jay Edge: “He is a symbol, and a symbol is such an abstract and ironic thing. He is a folk hero to an entire culture, an absolute embodiment of evil to another. He is Guthrie, Che, Stalin, Zola. He is a cycle of propaganda—just a cycle of propaganda.”