Ten years ago, I went to sleep after the longest day of my relatively young life. I had no idea what the coming months would bring; all I knew was that I wasn’t in my bed, I had been yanked from school early that morning, was very very tired and yet very awake. As the days would go on, there would be more and more anger from Americans, because life as they had known it had been torn apart.
People were shocked and sad, and then they became angry. Their anger grew as they watched extremists around the world celebrate the death of a small portion of America who had done nothing to set themselves up for attack, save live in the country they lived in. And this angered us more; how disgusting, how horrible were these people, for celebrating our loss!
This is what I think of now, as I watch crowds of Americans celebrate in front of the White House after Osama Bin Laden’s death. Wolf Blitzer of CNN has just told me that he’s sure there will be celebrations around the country, especially in New York and Pennsylvania. Because that’s the way to handle this — classily singing The Star-Spangled banner to celebrate death.
In his amazingly eloquent speech, President Obama told us to think back to the unity we felt as a nation after 9/11, an obvious request to end the incredibly partisan political situation he’s found himself a part of this term. But in this global economy, global culture, global social media, global whatever, where did global unity go?
Osama Bin Laden was a person. We don’t have to pretend to be sad, but we don’t have to celebrate. It’s crass, and entirely below us, and celebrating his death shows how little we respect and understand what his death means.
After the 9/11 attacks, it was assumed that everyone in the country wanted justice in the form of death. But I remember seeing none of this sentiment come from my friends and family, who lived blocks from the where the Trade Towers stood. They wanted nothing but peace, and felt nothing more than sadness and confusion.
I’m sure this celebration will only worsen as the days go on, and become bogged down with legitimate questions about the significance of this event on every level. But as I sit here this night, watching and reading and listening to others make assumptions about how happy everyone around the world is right now, all I can do is think back to that girl ten years ago. She sat in front of her television too, watching a world cry out for blood, when all she felt was a feeling she couldn’t put a name on. It took years to realize that it was a cool breeze whisking away anything she’d ever thought she knew. And all she wondered was how anyone could want to kill anyone else, and as stupid as it sounded even to herself, why couldn’t we all just get along?