Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women


on May 4, 2011

This week, the news of the death of Osama bin Laden spread across the country and in its wake left us with a number of disparate reactions.  Some were jubilant, taking to the streets in celebration, which I understand but still find a little icky.  Some were reflective, using this moment to remember the gaping wound this person left on our nation and mourn anew for lost loved ones.  Others, like me, were unsure how to feel and what to do. 

If ever evil were personified, it was in the being of bin Laden.  He killed without regard.  I read an article this week that made the point as clearly as I think it can be made: “He killed without regard for those who perished. That’s the scariest thing about people like bin Laden: Believing themselves to be at war against all freethinkers, their definition of “enemy” is nebulous. Children are soldiers by virtue of being born in America.”  Undoubtedly, our world is a better place without people like him. 

I read another article that reflected on the shared jubilation and sense that, “We got him” expressed in the impromtu rallies in New York and Washington.  The author is a military wife who, in the past five years, has endured both lonliness as her husband went to war, and also an increasing feeling of alienation from the nation at large.  Support for the wars has been waning.  Americans are weary of fighting and tired of losing our friends, neighbors and relatives to battles that seem increasingly removed from our reality.  So the public celebrations struck her as insincere.  People who had given up their support of the wars or of our soldiers were suddenly shouting from the rooftops that ‘we’ got him.  Is it insensitive to pick and choose when to celebrate military action?  Or is it a symptom of a short national attention span? 

My heart leapt when I watched the news on Monday morning (early to bed on Sunday, so I missed the President’s announcement).  But celebrating a death, even the death of someone so dispicable, just seems wrong-headed to me.  Instead, shouldn’t we focus on the future?  Someone who caused us so much pain is gone. The search for him is over. The spectre of his influence on our national psyche has disappeared.  This was a huge step for us as a nation.  But now, we need to move forward and move on.  We need to uphold our resistance to terrorism, and realize that it’s not yet over.  We need to continue to remember the ones we lost, and focus on their legacy.  There are miles to go.


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