I was thinking about calling it a night late Sunday when I received an email alert from the Washington Post on my blackberry: “Breaking News: White House says Obama to make late-night statement Sunday on an undisclosed topic.”
“That’s weird,” I thought to myself. “Who releases news alerts without any information?” I switched over to CNN from the Real Housewives of Orange County (I know, my life is filled with strange dichotomies) to find Wolf Blitzer frantic with anticipation, telling America that the unprecedented late-Sunday announcement was indeed very serious. Because I live by myself in a city 3.5 hours away from anyone who could remotely comfort me in any kind of crisis, I immediately called my parents and texted everyone in my family, telling them to turn on their televisions. It was only a few more minutes of scared speculation (should I get in my car and drive to New York? Do I even know where the Boston bomb shelters are?) before the outlets were reporting the news all of America has been hoping for for a decade: Osama bin Laden is dead.
And not just dead. Shot in the head. By Americans. In a courageous raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. His body buried at sea. It wasn’t long before the crowds were chanting “USA!” outside the White House, and people were breaking into song, namely the national anthem. “As a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed,” President Obama told the world from the East Room of the White House. “We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al-Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.”
On September 11, 2001, the world became a much different place than it had once prided itself on being. And because of that, a part of me wishes we were able to capture bin Laden alive – that we would be able to provide him with the agony he so easily supplied to the families of the 9/11 victims; that he might feel one ounce of the fear a parent feels when they send their child to war; that he too may live the rest of his life in sheer terror.
But I also know that there’s nothing we could do to him to match the pain he has inflicted. And so I, and all Americans, should take comfort in the fact that, no matter how long it takes, evil will not rule the day. While this is not the end of terrorism, maybe not even by a long shot, terrorists will know that our resolve, though it may falter, will not die.
Hopefully, soldiers can carry their loads a little lighter today. Hopefully mothers can rest their heads on the pillow with their hearts a little less heavy. And maybe, just maybe, we’ve taken a step towards creating a world where our children will know terrorism as a history lesson, and not a life one.
“Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
After 10 years, Osama bin Laden is dead.