Ξ May 2nd, 2011 | → 17 Comments | ∇ opinions, ramblings, sadness |
I remember everything about September 11, 2001. The four planes were still burning and smoking when my company sent us home to be with our families. Mom had called and asked that I please come to her work (she was a cancer nurse at Shady Side Hospital at the time). Although the hospital was completely in the wrong direction, the sound of her voice made me immediately say yes. Traffic wasn’t bad yet because Pittsburgh didn’t officially give the evacuate order until a bit later so I arrived quickly in Shady Side. Mom threw her arms around me and burst into tears, relieved that her only baby was safe after she witnessed such horrific events. It was like she only believed it when she finally saw me. I stayed in the cancer center until the end of the day, following Mom home and spending the evening / night with her (Reilly and Ludo hadn’t come into my life yet so there was no need for me to go home).
Mom turned the television on as soon as we were in her home. The news kept showing planes crashing into the Twin Towers. I felt sick. But the part that made me feel the most anger, true and pure white hot rage, was when the cameras would show people in the streets celebrating. Dancing. Clapping. Smiling. I couldn’t grasp how someone could feel joy at the same actions that caused me such overwhelming sadness. My brain couldn’t think straight and I started trying to figure out where those folks were. If they were in Philly I was going to drive five hours at top speed and not stop as I plowed straight into their celebration. I wanted to then put it in reverse and drive my little 1986 tank Volvo over anyone I missed. Over and over again. But then the announcer told me that the celebration was happening in a foreign land, a place where awful people hated us. A place where my little car couldn’t take me to ruin their celebration.
Almost ten years later a local DJ announced on Twitter (hi, @fsmikey!) that our President would hold a press conference around 10:30. At night. On a Sunday. Everyone knew it would be a big announcement. The POTUS doesn’t just make speeches late at night on Sundays. I stayed glued to Twitter. I watched as speculation was thrown around on television. And then I saw President Obama officially declare that Osama bin Laden was dead. I felt relief. Huge relief. While I knew that it didn’t mean the war was over, I felt proud of our troops and Military Intelligence for finding bin Laden. Pure relief that finally he felt the wrath of our country.
Twitter didn’t seem to show relief. It exploded with joy and jokes and happiness. Political statements were thrown around a bunch. Some folks were wonderful enough to thank our troops, some reflected on how much we have lost in the past ten years, but my stream was mostly filled with celebrations. Even couch burning celebrations (way to go, WV).
This morning television, radio and Twitter were filled with the merriment, with joy. Yet I can’t join in the party. I still feel great relief that the leader of al Qaeda, his son and couriers/confidants are no longer breathing, but I can’t dance. War is ugly and this victory is fantastic. But to dance and party in the streets? Seems all too similar to the celebrations I witnessed on September 11th. Those revelers were happy to hurt the enemy. To them we deserved it. And now we party because they deserve it for being our enemy.
Just doesn’t seem right.
I want to hug our military. I want our troops to know how grateful I am for their sacrifice, their willingness to witness and perform terrible acts, their living in conditions I can’t fathom, their service to our country. I want the families of those who serve to know that I am thankful for their sacrifice as well.
But I don’t want to celebrate.