Monday, May 2, 2011

Remembering the heroes of Sept. 11...what taking the bad guy down meant to me.

Every news article, every post, every blog  today has been focused on the same topic; the death of Osama Bin Laden. Different perspectives; a wide range of emotions, but everyone has something to say,  because this feels big, to different individuals for different reasons.
I stumbled on the news accidentally last night only because the batteries died in my remote control. I had been happily watching AMC, and had to repeatedly smack the remote when it was time to change channels, which inadvertently flipped me to a Fox station, where I recognized Giraldo. Reflexively I started yelling and waving the remote around like it had snot on it, trying to get any other channel on, when the crawler  on the bottom of the screen became visible, stating that Bin Laden had been killed. Because it was Fox, I immediately thought it was a scam, so I ran into the living room where my husband was engrossed in an action movie. "Osama Bin Laden has been killed and I can't get Fox off the TV in the bedroom!", I screamed  at him.
He turned around and looked at me like I had just set fire to the dog. "Well, hell, I didn't kill him...calm down." He switched to the NBC Denver affiliate, and sure enough, there it was, a confirmation. The US  had taken out Osama Bin Laden. I was not expecting the flood of emotions... feelings of relief, exuberance, guilt at feeling exuberance, national pride for the elite unit that took Bin Laden out, and satisfaction that it happened under the watch of  President Barack Obama. Then more guilt for being so shallow.
As we watched report after report, and witnessed the gathering crowds outside the White House and other locations around the country, I couldn't shake a little bit of the 'ick' I was feeling at feeling so celebratory over the death of another human being . My son from New York called to double check that the stuff he was reading on his Blackberry wasn't a hoax. My sister called from the neighboring town to make sure I was watching the news. I exchanged texts with friends from California. We communicated much the same way we did after we got the news of Sept. 11, family and friends pulling together and checking in with each other just because that's what we do. All of the feelings attached to September 11 were right up on the surface again.
I guess that's where I'm going with this. I'd prefer to put my energy and effort into an homage to remember the victims and families of September 11 today. The world changed, and for a kid who was raised in the late 50's and 60's and recalls 'duck and cover' drills, air raid sirens, and 'grown up' talk about the Bay of Pigs, a big slap of reality I hadn't experienced since childhood hit front and center that day. We lived such safe,comfy and ignorant  lives prior to  2001, so many of us disconnected from the rest of the world.
My family was lucky, and insulated. The losses we suffered had degrees of separation. I can only imagine the pain of losing loved ones, of the courage of first responders who ran INTO the burning and collapsing buildings, and actions of the passengers of  United Flight 93, who took action against the terrorists. Today, these are the people I want to fill my thoughts. Today I listened to a number of interviews of surviving family members, and to their varying viewpoints on last night's events. To everyone who has an opinion about the elimination of Bin Laden...I hope that there will be pause, and reflection, and at least a moment to remember and honor the victims of September 11, and prior to that, the 17 victims of the USS Cole attack.  It doesn't matter if we agree or disagree. We can pick up where we left off tomorrow, or the next day, but just for now, let's not focus on the bad guys. Let's remember the heroes. Let's honor the victims, and let's not forget that for a little while, we were united.

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