The people from my generation can tell you exactly where they were on Nov. 22, 1963. when President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, Texas.
And most of those people can probably tell you where they were five years later when Martin Luther King and then Robert Kennedy were assassinated, King in Memphis, Tenn., and Kennedy in Los Angeles.
Likewise, the people of this generation, as well as many others from previous generations, can tell you exactly where they were the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when they heard that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center in New York City, and then Washington, D.C.
And now, just about anyone of any age who listens to or reads the news can tell you when they heard about the death of Osama bin Laden Sunday night.
I was watching a baseball game but flipping around the channels as usual and came across the news that the president was going to talk to the nation in a couple minutes, and that bin Laden had been killed in a attack by the United States.
It wasn’t much later that we began to see people standing outside the White House, waving flags and chanting “USA.”
And soon television cameras were providing live shots from Ground Zero in New York City where people were also celebrating.
Although I was glad to hear about our country finally giving bin Laden the treatment he deserved, I wasn’t as happy about the USA chants, nor the flag waving. I guess it reminded me too much of what has been going in Middle East countries recently.
And then I thought about it a little more.
Osama bin Laden’s death, and the manner in which it came with the U.S. doing the job, was a just one. He was a monster, one of the worst our world has ever seen.
He was behind the plans that spread terror around our country that September day back in 2001 and it appears he’s been responsible for thousands of other deaths, including even his countrymen.
I looked back on a column I wrote at six different times of the day on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2001, when we knew so little about what had happened.
That morning at 10:30 I wrote that our world had changed forever. And it has. “When life is valued so little that something like this can happen, there is no place in world that is safe,” were the words I used.
By 8:30 that night there were lines a few blocks long at gas stations in Princeton as rumors of gas costing $3.50 were making the rounds. Someone said gas was already up to $6 a gallon in Cambridge and $8 in Mora, and that there had been a fist fight when someone hauled some gas cans on a trailer to a gas station. (There were lots of rumors that night.)
At 10:30 that night I wondered why we had come to such a crossroads in our lives. The anger was building and I asked, “What possesses someone to plan such a gutless but totally destructive act?” Later, “More and more there is a need tonight to strike back for what has happened, even though it won’t bring back the thousands of lives snuffed out today.” And later yet, “Tonight I fear for my children’s generation and their children’s generation, and for the world.”
Finally, at 7 a.m. the next morning, “More than anything our country must be united in purpose as we search for the ‘faceless cowards’ that President Bush talked about last night.”
As I looked back on newspapers from September 2001 I thought of the people who died in the attack on our country that day, their relatives and friends, and the young men and women who rushed to join the military to help combat such happenings.
And I decided that, even though I’m not a person to chant “USA,” there’s nothing wrong with it, or the flag waving that accompanied it Sunday night.
And if I hear anyone, either from the left or right, say we shouldn’t have taken out bin Laden the way we did because it will provoke retaliatory acts, I’ll ask them to leave the U.S.
The fight against terrorism will never end and al Qaeda will seek to respond. But the U.S. did what it had to do, and in the way that it did.
Bin Laden deserved what he got.
- Luther Dorr,
Mille Lacs County Times