Arianna and Evan,
Just about 2 hours ago, I was ready to call it a night when I went to Facebook and Twitter for “one final check”. You were both in your beds, sleeping soundly, and I was more than ready to join you in dreams. That’s when I saw THE NEWS, Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qaeda, has not only been shot, but killed, and is in the custody of US Officials.
You ask, Mama, who is bin Laden, and what does it mean that he is dead? My children, my babies who are so innocent and so unaware, this man was an evil man who operated a terrible attack on our country on September 11, 2001.
Your Mama was only 18 at the time, and had just started school. I heard about the attack from a friend while I was waiting for Psych 101 to start–the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane that had been taken over by terrorists. We were dismissed from class while the administration determined how they were going to brief us on the situation. Being so young, I had many friends who had just joined up with the troops as well as family and friends already in, so my emotions tore me apart–I remember falling to my knees on the hill at Chatham and just crying out to God, WHY, WHY, WHY?
Pulling myself together, I joined many of my classmates and hallmates watching as a second plane hit the towers and then a plane was brought down in Shanksville. WHY SHANKSVILLE, GOD, WHY? Would my young, fellow (fresh) PK (preacher’s kid) friends be ok? (They had just moved to Shanksville, would their father, a new minister be ready for this?) I ran to my room and called my dad in tears. We could barely talk, we just cried and mumbled prayers, then I left for the briefing by the President of my college.
The days and weeks that followed were tearful, I walked by a flag at half-staff and tears came to my eyes. I still didn’t fully understand how much these sick attacks burdened our country.
And then, in 2002, I went to France for a study abroad. My friend was spit on, and people called us “Damn Americans”–why? Because we wanted to go to war against these terrorists. A short 2 months later, while I was on Spring Break in Canada, President George W. Bush proclaimed the War on Terror. We were going to hunt down this evil man and others like him who brought such grief and fear to our country.
Well, babies, it took almost 10 years, but our great country has won tonight. bin Laden’s death has been confirmed. Well terrorism is not over and our guard is not down, it is big. Navy Seals have taken him down, and our country rejoices. There are fireworks. There is dancing in the street. Social media is blowing up. Party lines are down, we are one united tonight. How long will it last? I do not know, but I do know that I have to have pride in our country, gratitude for our troops, and trust in our Administration that we will keep our guard up.
The thing to remember is that we are “celebrating” (that word is so wrong, but to me, it means justice) his death, the death of a man we hated…while there are people that loved him as much as we hated him. We must keep vigilant and strong. I am interested to see where the next days, weeks, months, and years take us.
Like President Obama ended his speech, I will end my note to you. Always be thankful for those who have fought for and continue to fight for our freedom–both at home and abroad. Our Troops, the men and women who sacrifice for us, are so worthy of your gratitude and appreciation. Promise me that you will never forget, like our country will never forget 9/11/01 and 5/1/11.