I sat with my older girls last night when the news came through that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. We watched the coverage and eagerly awaited the official word from the President. It stirred up a lot of emotions because while there was some relief in the realization that the leader of Al Qaeda was no more, it also brought me right back to the horror of September 11th.
I distinctly remember picking up my Katie from Pre-K as I shielded her face from the ashy cinders that descended over our Brooklyn neighborhood. Last night, many celebrated saying that justice had been done. Numbers of people poured out into the streets of NYC, some with children in tow holding handmade signs claiming victory. Many of the kids were barely old enough to understand what has happened, yet they were cheering that someone was dead. It was unsettling.
Let me preface this by saying that I am pleased that President Obama completed the mission that has been ten years in the making. I am thankful to our troops and servicemen and women who have given up their lives to keep our country safe. But I am disturbed at how some people are making this news akin to a Super Bowl win and a party atmosphere. It’s not a celebration and we shouldn’t teach our kids that it is.
It’s not a ‘we won, you lost’ situation. We all lost. Our country lost a whole lot, over 3,000 people who perished in the Twin Towers, Pentagon and on Flight 93, and countless more who have been killed in combat since then.
Plus, getting Bin Laden is just the beginning. There are so many more terrorists out there and Bin Laden has had plans implemented for years about exactly how Al Qaeda should operate without him. Today, our subway systems, bridges, and airports are crawling with armed police waiting for retaliation. This can be quite a confusing thing for kids. When my son got up and saw the news, the first thing he said was, “I’m scared. Are they coming here?”
Isn’t celebrating a death the very opposite of what we should do as parents and Americans? I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t feel satisfied or even proud that our country stood up for those who were senselessly killed, but we shouldn’t make it a party, don our kids in hate-filled t-shirts and light fireworks (as they did in my neighborhood).
We need to take a reverent stance and not teach our children to jump up and down because the big bad U.S. defeated the ultimate bad guy. It is so much more complicated than that. And it’s not over. Bin Laden’s death does not bring back any of the victims to the devastated family members. I hope it might bring them some closure, but for many it won’t. Their mother, father, son, husband, daughter remains gone forever.
There is a time for celebration when we rejoice, when an event is purely good and joyous, but now is a time for solemn pride in our country and somber reflection on what brought us here to this day.
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