Monday, May 2, 2011

May 1, 2011 - The Death of Osama bin Laden

I am alone and in tears in a hotel room in Houston. I am confused by my feelings.

As I was responding to emails. I heard a story on Fox News that caught my attention. I stopped what I was doing and started watching the news report. I learned the President was about to address the nation. Then I heard that Osama bin Laden was dead. My first reaction was a fist pump and a loudly yell "YES!" Since it is late and I am hours from my home in New Orleans, I wanted to reach out to others and share the news.

Created by Dean Mantz on

I opened TweetDeck on my computer and started following the stream of tweets. Most were expressing a satisfaction that he was dead. But there were others who were critical of the outpouring of joy over the death of a man. Other shared links to breaking news reports, and still others shared pictures or videos of crowds celebrating the news that bin Laden was dead. Each new tweet had my emotions in a whirl. Should I be joyous? Should I be outraged by the celebrating by others?

I clearly remember September 11, 2001. Back then I got ready to go to work in a quiet house - no radio, no TV, and of course Twitter didn't exist yet. I liked my solitude in the mornings as I prepared for work. When I arrived at school on that brilliantly beautiful morning, another teacher asked me if I had heard the news about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York. I had been in New York the week before attending the U.S. Open and had gone to the World Trade Center twice while I was there.

I ran to my classroom and turned on the TV and started up a computer. I was trying to wrap my head around what was happening when I watched as the second plane flew into the other tower. I had to make a decision because my 4th graders were starting to arrive. I turned off the TV, and muted the sound on the computer and positioned it so my students couldn't see it. I was trying to decide if I should talk to them about what was happening or not. Well, that decision would not be mine to make. Our principal came rushing into my room and announced that the superintendent of our district had just announced we were not to talk about it or share any of the images of what was happening with our students. We were to protect them from the horrible events that were unfolding.

During the day the teachers took turns getting updates in the teacher's lounge and trying to comprehend this horrific event. Parents started arriving to check their children out early. The children were confused and a little bit frightened. I told them that an event had occurred in New York that their parents would tell them about when they got home. I left school early that day and spent the rest of it glued to the TV watching as the events of the day were replayed on all the channels. I cried and cried. I remember being scared as I wondered what would happen in the coming days. I wondered how our world would change.

We had the next day off from school mainly because our superintendent was worried. Our district has children from 88 countries including many from Iran and Iraq, so she wanted us to have another day to deal with our feelings in private before returning to school. The next days and weeks were kind of surreal. Everyone went through the routine, but we all had a numb feeling. Slowly things returned to normal. But I knew I would never forget.

So tonight I am struggling with all of the feelings that resurfaced from 9/11. I have vascillated between being joyous and being concerned that I am joyous. I am both grateful that a terrible man no longer exists, but confused because I am celebrating a death.

I read this post by Tom Whitby. I guess his last sentence sums up my feelings.

God Bless the USA.