Monday, May 02, 2011

may day

Last night we were treated to one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen — as a treat after the end of a local concert series. After it was over we went back inside and I tucked the kid into bed and watched a favorite show on TV to unwind. I had the laptop nearby and noticed just as my program was ending an update from the NY Times on Facebook: Osama bin Laden is dead. It seemed like it took a long time for the President to come out and make his address to the world, but it was well worth the wait.

I am relieved, as are many, that this evil figurehead is gone. But I know, like many, that his death doesn't mean the end of terrorism.

I am wondering if there is any other time in U.S. history where an announcement such as Obama's last night — we got him — has been made about a military leader.  I can't think of any in recent memory. Saddam Hussein was executed.  There are unsubstantiated rumors of the death of Gadaffi. The only somewhat similar thing I can think of might have been the news reports detailing Jack Ruby's killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. John Wilkes Booth's capture and death was even more similar. I'm sure some sensibilities are shocked at how matter of fact the President was, stating that the goal, the plan, was to kill bin Laden. But that is war. That was the mission. I am not in favor of war at all, but I won't kid myself that it wasn't a kill or be killed situation.

The political ramifications are yet to be seen, but if anything, it illustrates how methodically the Obama administration is in its approach to accomplishing its goals, and that it doesn't shy away from force when it's called for. Dubya, I have to admit, was a class act as he congratulated Obama on his administration's success. As I went to bed, much later that evening, like I'm sure the rest of the world who stayed up to watch the coverage, I thought about the fireworks earlier and the order of the evening.

In 2001 I moved to DC from New York. On the morning of September 11 I was walking out of a doctor's appointment downtown when I noticed a lot of people standing around looking confused, holding their phones. As I walked down the street towards the bus stop to head into work I heard snippets of conversation, "Pentagon bombing," "Plane hijacked." What the hell was going on? Cell phones didn't work, the Metro wasn't running. I walked into a hotel lobby (there are hotels on almost every corner in DC) and managed to get through to my boss. As we talked on the phone she got an email telling her to send all staff home, there had been an attempt on the Pentagon. I walked home with hundreds of others, also stranded with no public transportation, reaching home just in time to watch the Twin Towers fall on CNN. I spent the rest of the day frantically trying to reach loved ones still in New York, as they also tried to reach me. We were all glued to the tube for days after that, trying to take in the horror. Part of me still can't believe it happened. I just pray that nothing of this horrible magnitude will ever happen again.
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