Osama Bin Laden is dead. Unlike many of my friends, I don’t feel vindicated, however. And don’t give me the ‘you’re not a New Yorker – you don’t know how it feels’ crap, either. It’s true, I didn’t know anyone directly who died on 9/11/01, and I wasn’t in the city when it happened, but for you to imply that every American citizen didn’t feel what happened that day in a way that affected their core forever, then you’re delusional. I don’t care whether you were at ground zero when it happened or were on a shrimp boat in the Gulf, what Osama Bin Laden planned that day left a lasting impression on everyone on the planet. Americans, nay, peace-loving humans everywhere suffered deeply and collectively. In my 46 years, it was the worst day of my life.
I don’t know about you, but Bin Laden hasn’t really been a daily thought of mine for most of the past decade. Sure, he was forefront for a few weeks, and then during the anthrax scare, and whenever he’d release a video or audio recording from a cave. But the fact that he was scurrying around in dirty sandals halfway around the world wasn’t a huge priority in my life. And he wasn’t a factor in how I lived. Except for the fact that now I need a fucking passport to get to the Bahamas.
The end of the first Iraq War felt like a victory. Curing cancer would feel like a victory. Killing a punk terrorist ten years later feels like the next move in a long chess match.
I’m ok with everyone feeling happy that we just chopped the head off of the snake that bit us, but after ten years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars – I don’t feel much like celebrating. He’s one man. This doesn’t feel like a sweeping victory. And I have no intention of ‘remembering’ the day this mass murderer died. He doesn’t deserve that much space in my head, nor that much respect.
If it’s cathartic for you to sing the National Anthem in the streets while fireworks go off above you, then do it. Get it out of your system. Because if you think for one second that somehow Bin Laden’s death means that we’re all suddenly safer – you’re naive. Remember, jingoism breeds martyrdom. And the Islamic extremists don’t really need another reason to plot terror.
Yes, this is a great day for America. And yes, as petty as it is, I’m glad that the guy I voted for was in office when it happened. But let’s not carry Bin Laden’s head around on a stick. We’re better than that.
Jim Mitchem is a USAF Veteran and is proud of the men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.