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Monday, May 2, 2011

OT - My two cents

This has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with the US military strike in Pakistan yesterday. If you're tired of reading about it, I don't blame you, feel free to skip this one. I know this is a photography blog and talking about the death of Osama bin Laden is pretty far off topic, but I couldn't help but write about how I feel about the situation. Sorry.

I totally missed the news last night, so this morning I was greeted by a storm of reports in my RSS reader and on twitter/facebook. After I had figured out what happened, I watched President Obama's speech. Say what you want about the man, he is an excellent speaker, and delivered what I believe to be the perfect reaction to this situation: a somber recounting and rememberence of the lives lost, a "yes we can" moment about Americans accomplishing what they set out to do, and a few cautionary words that the war on terror is far from over. No "Mission Accomplished" banner, no gloating, no overtly political agenda.

Listening to him speak dragged up memories of The September 11th. The principal coming on the PA to announce what had happened. The deafening silence through the school. TV's being wheeled out. Watching the second plane crash into the towers in real time. Reports of other planes being hijacked. A smoldering wreck at the Pentagon. The panic and fear that I felt at the time, wondering where and when the next attack would come. Sorrow for those who lost friends or family members in the attacks. Gratitude that I wasn't directly affected.

I remember the silence in the skies that week while all the planes were grounded. When flights resumed, my heart would race a bit every time I heard the sound of a jet engine in the sky. I remember an incredible surge of patriotism, and seeing American flags flying on every porch. I remember George Bush announcing our invasion of Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and put a stop to al Qaeda. I remember a government and a people moving forward as one.

10 years later, the military finally found and killed bin Laden. Am I happy that he's dead? I think so, but I feel like it's a bit of a hollow victory. I'm happy for the closure that it must have brought to people who were affected by the 9/11 attacks, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't change anything. I'll still get groped on the way through airport security and have to put my shampoo in a little plastic bottle inside a little plastic bag. Our troops will continue operations overseas, and more Americans will die. Even if we manage to completely disrupt al Qaeda, new terrorist groups will emerge and threaten our people. On top of that, we're still battling our way out of a recession, dealing with violent natural disasters, almost shutting down our government due to political posturing and indecision, and facing a looming energy crisis.

Killing bin Laden is an important and certainly historical event, but I don't feel the urge to celebrate in the streets and yell obscenities about it. I think it's an opportunity to remember those who were lost 10 years ago, and to move forward with determination onto the next issue. And the next one after that. To gain back a bit of that unity and citizenship that we felt 10 years ago. To put aside some of the petty squabbling and focus on the bigger issues.

What do you think?


[title of blog] on flickr


  1. Quite the same. Well put, Simon, well put.

    )Coincidentally I just blogged about this too. Heh. Not surprising that it's on all of our minds.)

  2. Let's pretend that first parenthesis was an open, not a close.