Random Thoughts on the Death of a Villain

Osama bin Laden (Sorry, he doesn't get a photo).

I apologize in advance. I am all over the yard in this post.  I have been unable to focus squarely on this issue today.

He was a son of wealth and privilege.  He could have chosen the life of the international playboy.  Instead, he elected the path of the international terrorist and murderer.

Osama bin Ladin died today at the age of 54.  His demise was violent.  A fitting end for a life devoted to causing pain and sorrow to others.

After more than a decade of intentionally inflicting death for his cause — a perverted version of Islam bearing no relation to the teachings of Mohammed — the world is a much better place without him.

September 11, 2001 affected me personally.  I’m sure it did you the same.

As I noted in my post of last September 11 (click here), I grew up celebrating the World Trade Center (which we called ‘The Twin Towers’) as a symbol of my city.  The loss of those buildings and the thousands of people inside them creates an unfillable void in my spirit and in my soul.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who had this visceral reaction:

“It’s incredible,” Sasha said, “how there’s just nothing there.”

Astounded, Bennie turned to her.  Was it possible that she’d followed his musical rant to its grim conclusion?  Sasha was looking downtown, and he followed her eyes to the empty space where the Twin Towers had been.  “There should be something, you know?” she said, not looking at Bennie.  “Like an echo.  Or an outline.”

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Good Squad.

He took from us.  He was not the only one resposible.  But he was the guy behind it all.  Without him those towers would still be there, in Egan’s words from the same book, “filling us all with hope.”

I’ve waited for this day for so long.  I thought I’d would be filled with feelings of joy revenge satisfaction vindication self-righteousness patriotism.

Actually, I’m having trouble feeling any of these sensations.  Right now, I’m pretty much numb.  Maybe bin Laden won in the end by depriving me of feeling?

On balance, I think I need a few days to process this development.  Then I’ll begin feeling again.

In the meantime, my mind is wandering:

  • Steve Collaio was a friend of my sister.  He and his brother Mark were at work at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor on the infamous date.  I went to school with Steve’s sister, Jean.  My heart has gone out to her every day since I learned of this news.
  • My buddy Blaine and I were serving in the same U.S. Army reserve unit on 9/11/01.  Subsequently, he deployed to Iraq for a year.  He is my hero.  Today he wrote on Facebook: “Rest in pieces dbag, sorry I wasn’t there to pop one in him myself”  I wish I could feel like that right now.
  • Although President Obama can rightly take full credit for this accomplishment (it’s what the country has sought for nearly 10 years), I sincerely hope that Osama’s death does not become a campaign boast during the upcoming election season.
  • Jessica wrote on FB of her conversations with her young children: “Spent breakfast attempting to explain terrorism, extremism and why it’s sometimes ok to be glad someone is dead. I wish my answers were worthy of their thoughtful questions…”  I realized that I am glad that Island Boy is not at the stage where such an explanation is necessary.  He is still learning concepts such as the English language.  His present stage of innocence is A-okay with me.
  • Could bin Laden’s death serve as the impetus for withdrawal from Afghanistan?  It would be so great if good would come of this man’s grisly demise.
  • Mark Twain said: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”
  • The supposed burial-at-sea of bin Laden’s body is a smart move (if it really happened).  The last thing this country needs is a charge that the U.S. is insensitive to Muslim burial customs.
  • Timing is everything.  President Obama was able to joke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner about trivial stuff while he knew in the back of his mind that this operation was going down.  Eat that, Donald Trump.  Stop wasting everyone’s time.  We have serious matters to to attend to in this country.
  • I’ll never forget the feeling that I experienced in September 2001 while the Star Spangled Banner played during the 9/11 memorial service in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, or upon seeing the front page of Le Monde proclaiming “Nous Sommes Tous Américains” (“We are all Americans”).  Although our alliances may fray from time to time, our friends were standing solidly by us at our time of need.
  • Osama bin Laden was not only the mastermind of 9/11.  He was also responsible for the bombings of the U.S.S. Cole, the Khobar Towers and the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
  • Mary wrote on FB: “So the princess married her prince and the bad guy was killed. This past weekend has been brought to you by Disney.”

Our own beloved Running Girl favored this today:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – MLK Jr

I will leave you with the words of my friend and fellow blogger, The Buffalo Pundit:

Live your life. Be happy. Do things. Travel. Read. Write. Draw. Paint. Buy. Make. Invent. Love. Discover. The best way to defeat terror is to be. And to not be afraid.

— The Major


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lynne Levy on May 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks for this post. You put together so much of what so many of us feel. It is really a strange set of emotions. and I love the quote from the Buffalo Pundit.


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