(Warning: This is a much more serious post than what you may be used to but I promise, after I get this off my chest, we'll return to our regularly scheduled lighthearted programming!)
After re-reading my previous post on last night's announcement, I decided to delete it. I felt it didn't properly convey my thoughts on the news of bin Laden's death. I've thought about the past 24 hours, read other commentary, and struggled with my own confusion. Someone was killed and I want to celebrate? That can't be right. But after much reflection, I've come to this conclusion: It's okay to celebrate.
Now before you get the wrong idea about me, let me explain. Like most of you, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the Twin Towers. The memory of that Tuesday is one of the few where I can recall the full day in detail. I was a sophomore in college living in Chicago. The normally bustling metropolis went silent on 9/11. Stores closed, leaving streets and sidewalks deserted. The vibrant urban jungle felt like a ghost town. For a few weeks following 9/11, I was sent home from work early a number of times because of rumors and "intelligence" that the Sears Tower was the next target. I worked just a few blocks away from that building. Some days the knot in my stomach remained from the time I left my apartment to head downtown until I returned safely that evening. Looking back, I know that fear was irrational but 9/11 had proven anything could happen - especially when you least expected it. As the fear and anxiety dissipated and daily life regained some semblance of normalcy, we still faced constant reminders of global insecurity. Color-coded threat levels and talk of biological weapons abound. Ten years later you need only walk into an airport to be reminded of the daily uncertainties our nation still faces.
None of this justifies killing another human being but, to be fair, most Americans have difficulty viewing Osama bin Laden as a fellow man. The atrocities he has masterminded are beyond the comprehension of most people. Over the last decade, he has been demonized by the media and characterized as a Wild West criminal worthy of a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster by our nation's leaders. After all the rhetoric, he was no longer seen as a man but, rather, a symbol of worldwide terror and destruction. As of May 1, that symbol no longer exists. And for that reason, it's okay to celebrate.
But let me be clear - we must not confuse our celebration. We must not celebrate death or violence. We must not celebrate murder. We must not celebrate vengeance or blood thirst. We must not celebrate unrealistic fairy tale lessons of good triumphing over evil. And we must be certain we do not celebrate of the loss of human life.
Instead, we celebrate relief. We celebrate our brave service men and women so they know they have not risked their lives in vain. We celebrate their families who anxiously await their safe return home. We celebrate our strong intelligence community that works night and day to keep our country safe and eliminate threats to our nation. We celebrate our leader who has the courage to make difficult decisions, even those that are heartbreaking and gut wrenching. We celebrate closure for those who lost loved ones that tragic day. We celebrate whatever sense of security this brings back to our nation, however small it may be. And most importantly, in a time of economic woes and political mudslinging, where everyday all you read is news of war and vehement discord, we celebrate the unity our country is currently experiencing. We celebrate coming together for a cause greater than ourselves. And we celebrate the hope that maybe someday we will once again feel safe and secure.
Of course, these are just my own thoughts and opinions. Many of you may not agree with me. I'd love to hear what you're thinking.