United state of relief
Published: May 2, 2011
My husband woke me up this morning with a cup of coffee and the news that Osama Bin Laden is no more.
“There’s a crowd of students outside the White House," he said.
“What are they doing?" I asked groggily, still not sure if I was awake or dreaming.
“They’re waving flags and singing the National Anthem,’” he said.
It was just after six in the morning here in Germany. I hopped out of bed quickly and went downstairs to watch CNN. I had already missed the live broadcast of the president’s announcement, but what I really wanted to see was the jubilant crowd of Americans, mostly college students in those early hours, outside the gates of the White House.
I sat on the sofa watching the news and wiping away tears. I thought of the Navy SEAL team who certainly faced the possibility of death to carry out the mission. I thought of military members and families like ours around the world, and prayed for safety from those who would not welcome this news.
I felt a sense of measured relief. Measured because I know this long-awaited victory is not the end of terrorism. But relief that justice was surely done. America has a reason to celebrate as one nation. In 2001 we were unified in grief. It is good to be unified in relief this time.
I’m still watching the news as crowds gather at Ground Zero in the wee hours of the New York morning. People wave flags or wear them. Two young men climb a traffic light pole and pop bottles of what looks like champagne, spraying the cheering crowd below.
People interviewed there -- some who live nearby and saw the Twin Towers fall -- use the word “closure” repeatedly.
A reporter amid the crowd at the White House interviewed a young woman who was a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It almost feels like it was worth it,” she said. Yes, almost, I silently agreed. It’s been a long ten years.
Watching them, especially the crowd near the White House, I wish I could be in my own country today. I’d like to be there for these celebrations and others that are bound to begin as the sun rises on the U.S. and Americans awake to a new day.
The sun is already up here in Germany, and I wonder what changes this event brings to our world. No matter where we are, the American military community is part of the victory, the change and the path forward, wherever that takes us.
Will this death shorten the war, as historians say Hitler’s death would have done during WWII? Comparisons are inevitable, but it’s a vastly different world in 2011. As many are already warning, this is one step on a long journey.
“Killing an idea is harder than killing a person,” I heard one reporter say this morning.
I’m writing to the sound of the television, which I rarely do, but I don’t want to miss anything.
Now I’m listening to the rebroadcast of the president’s announcement. He is talking about Sept. 11, 2001, another day when I just couldn’t turn off the news.
“He declared war on innocent people,” another world leader said this morning of Osama bin Laden. “Today he has paid for that declaration.”
About time – we’ve been paying the price for ten years.