May 1, 2011 was a Sunday. I had attended church and then headed into Manhattan with a friend. The reason for the trek into the city was to lead a private tour at the WTC site for my friend, her sister and her sister’s friends. We visited the Tribute Center and then I lead a walking tour explaining the history of the original World Trade Center, a timeline of the September 11 attacks, information about the rescue, recovery and rebuilding. I also told my personal story. We finished our tour in WFC #3 aka the American Express building at their beautiful memorial to their 11 employees that were killed on September 11. After the tour, we drove to my friend’s sister’s house for pizza and the discussion about September 11 continued with people sharing their memories and me answering more questions.
It was getting late so I drove my friend home and as I headed home I turned the car radio on. At first I didn’t understand what the news report was about but I could sense from the tone of the newscasters voice that “something had happened”. And then I realized what was being reported and I felt nothing. I even remember thinking “I think I should be happy” but I felt nothing. I got home and my friend called and asked if I had heard. Yes, I heard. She commented “that she couldn’t believe we had been at the site the day Bin Laden was killed”. Each of my daughters called me and we discussed our individual reactions. My younger daughter commented that “the timing was interesting with the tenth anniversary only months away.” And my older daughter mentioned “daddy died in the line of duty”. I did see President Obama announce the killing of Bin laden and then I went to bed.
I was volunteering at the Tribute Center on Monday so Monday morning I headed into the city. I hadn’t seen any television reports. I hadn’t seen the images of people reacting and “celebrating”. I was very surprised by the added police presence and all the media. There were even mounted police. It was a zoo. I will say that the Tribute Center is always wonderful about trying to keep the media in line. I was asked if I would like to attend the mayor’s press conference on the “site”. “Sure why not” I haven’t had that experience before. I am not good at recognizing famous/noteworthy people but I did recognize Katy Couric. Oh my bizarre life.
Anyway after a few days I realized that I needed to share some thoughts about Bin Laden’s death and I did on Facebook.
random thoughts on Bin Laden’s death
I have had an interesting week. I have been processing/pondering the death of Bin Laden. I have realized the I am actually indifferent. And in realizing that I remembered that I once heard that the opposite of love is not hate – it is indifference. I don’t think his death makes us any safer. The opposite is probably true. I haven’t been waiting for 10 years for his death. I hope that the people who have been waiting for his death now have peace. Emily called me on Sunday evening she said that she has always thought that Bruce died in the line of duty. I would have to agree. To me Bruce gave his life, Bin Laden did not take Bruce’s life. I haven’t watched much TV news (I don’t usually – I listen to the radio or read on the Internet) so I haven’t seen a lot of the celebrations. I see September 11 through two lenses – the FDNY widow lens and the follower of Jesus Christ lens. I don’t think I can see it just through the American lens because those other two lens are so strong that I can’t separate them from who I am.
The one thing that was very disturbing and annoying to me was ” that Bin Laden was buried within 24 hours because of Islamic tradition” Really I would think if you murdered close to 3,000 people (or even 1 person) your religious beliefs become irrelevant. There were Jews and Muslims killed on Sept 11 who were not afforded their religious traditions. I understand part of that was to appease the Islamic community but really…
I have great respect for our military and my heart breaks for the families of those that have been killed during this struggle with terrorism.
As I said to a reporter “On May 28 my daughter is getting married and whether Bin Laden is dead or alive, her dad is not here to walk her down the aisle.” – that is the reality. This week is another chapter in that nonexistent booklet “a personal lose in the midst of a national tragedy” As always God is faithful 🙂
Now almost a year later I still struggle with observing Islamic tradition and not because it was Islamic tradition but because I think Bin Laden forfeited his right for us to respect his beliefs. People have explained to me that “we” were taking the higher ground and I wish that I could believe that is why “we” observed his religious beliefs. I just wish “we” would take the higher ground when it comes to respecting each other.