The death of Osama Bin Laden: A watershed in post-9/11 America

My normal routine of late has been to retire for the day around 9:30 or 10 p.m. This past evening I tended to my daughter, tired after an Ultimate Frisbee tournament over the weekend, and together we watched some of the Washington Capitols hockey game. Then I started to watch a DVD on my computer that Beverly Eckert had put together. It contained video of news broadcasts dealing with the love she lost, Sean Rooney, the aftermath of the attacks, and the causes Beverly became involved in. I saw her face; I heard her words; I was re-living those terrible days and emotions.

I had started to watch the DVD a couple years ago, but could not get through all three discs. Now was time to go through it again, for some reason. I don’t know why I chose tonight. But as interviews of Beverly flashed on my computer screen, and scenes of that horrible day, the news came on television and on Twitter and the news online — from everywhere, literally! —  that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US forces in Pakistan. One of the leaders of al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of this mass murder, was finally tracked down and would plan the deaths of others no more. I watched as President Barack Obama carefully and intelligently explained what had happened and what it meant.

When he reached the end of his remarks, the president recalled the families of 9/11, and it seemed the spirit of Beverly was everywhere. That is a kind of eternity that happens every day, all over the world. We remember someone who has passed away, and they live in a way that is as real and vital as anything in this ephemeral existence of ours.

Here are the concluding words of the president’s memorable speech:

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
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.
Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.
Then came the images and reports on TV about the spontaneous outpourings of joy and patriotism and relief at the White House and Times Square and Ground Zero. People had heard the news of Bin Laden’s death, and voted with their feet. They were mostly young people, ones you would not expect to even care about 9/11 or Bin Laden or the war in Afghanistant and Pakistan. But the news of the death of this monster struck a chord, and out came the flags, the chants, the patriotic songs. God Bless America, the Land that I Love..
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