With the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, I am sure that I am not alone in remembering back to the first time I heard his name. That, of course, was in September of 2001 and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I am not going to recount that morning here, but rather an experience that sums up the feelings surrounding those events.
My friend Mike and I were living in Seattle and both working on the night shift at a local grocery chain, but each at a different location. I can’t remember the exact day that this happened, but I know it was within weeks of 9/11. Long enough that life had gone back to normal for most people, but it was something that you still thought about constantly. It was early in the morning and we were both off work. Because it was payday, Mike wanted to go pick up his paycheck. So we fought the morning traffic and headed from Redmond to Bellevue. Mike ran into the store long enough to grab his check. Then we headed straight back to Redmond.
Traffic was a little bit lighter on the way back, but not by much. Mike was driving and I just remember being half asleep, looking out the window and probably complaining about traffic. We were stopped at the light on the corner of NE 8th Street and 140th Ave NE (right across from the Walgreen’s if you are familiar with the area) when I noticed an Indian woman pushing a stroller on the sidewalk. It was a normal fall Seattle morning, overcast and a bit breezy so she was bundled up in her traditional garb and pushing against the wind.
Nothing out of the ordinary at all, but as I glanced over, her scarf flew away down the sidewalk without her knowing. I didn’t think we were going to be moving anytime soon, so I jumped out of the car and jogged down the sidewalk after it. I grabbed the scarf and then hustled up to the woman. I am sure that she was a bit surprised to see a dirty warehouse worker, unclean and unshaven, with her scarf. I gave the scarf to her, she thanked me, and I headed back to the car (all before the light changed).
As I headed back to the car, people started to honk and I heard a couple of people start to yell. I initially thought they were being impatient. Though when I looked around, I noticed that they were clapping and honking their horns to cheer me on. I heard, “Way to go, America!” and a few other cheers. For a moment I felt like a small hero. Then I got into the car and we finished our journey home.
I like to think of us, Americans, as people who still cheer for honor, integrity, and everything that is righteous. My small experience demonstrated this. However, I had very mixed feelings watching the news last night after President Obama confirmed to the public that Bin Laden was dead. I can’t think of a man in recent history that deserved to die more than Osama, but I still did not like to see people cheering in the streets.
No judgement here. People can do as they please, but for some reason I can’t quite explain, I felt that the night deserved more somber services in remembrance of the people this man has killed than chanting and shouting outside of the White House. “Never a boast or brag” comes to mind, but maybe that is just the way I was raised. As happy as I am that this evil man is dead, I still won’t celebrate death in the same manner as people celebrate their team winning the Super Bowl.
Looking forward, I hope that we can keep the solidarity that we had after the attacks of 9/11, that we can remember the sanctity of life, and as good prevails over evil, which it always will, that we can act in humility that we might deserve the divine intervention that we will most assuredly need.