Maybe I wish I were one of those who don’t believe that Osama bin Laden has been killed. Then I wouldn’t find myself suddenly transported back to that horrible day in 2001 when we turned the television on to see an airplane fly into the World Trade Center. I wouldn’t have the pictures in my mind of the buildings burning, of police and firefighters rushing toward it to help, of people who knew they were going to die jumping from windows of the building to quicker and possibly less painful deaths. I wouldn’t see in my mind’s eye the fall of the buildings in New York, the Pentagon attack in Washington, D.C., and the crash of Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field. Most of all I wouldn’t be thinking of the list of nearly 3,000 who died that day, and the nearly 6,000 soldiers who have died since in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I wouldn’t think about the last thoughts of those who died. The TJMaxx buyers from my home town of Framingham, Massachusetts, who were on one of the flights out of Boston that flew into the towers, probably excited to be flying to New York City. The breakfast patrons in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the tower who called World Trade Center security asking how they could get down to the ground, if anyone was coming to rescue them, and finally saying, “We’re going to die, aren’t we?” The Pentagon employees. The passengers on Flight 93.
We were cleaning out books in preparation for the book sales last month, and I piled some in my car to donate. After the sale, I discovered that somehow two of the books had escaped and fallen under the car seat. They’ve been in my car since, waiting for me to decide how to dispose of them. One of the books was “Let’s Roll” by Lisa Beamer, wife of Todd Beamer, one of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who ganged up on the terrorist hijackers and forced the plane into the ground rather than into another occupied target. “I wonder if anyone’s interested in that anymore,” I thought. Now, I think I’ll keep the book for a while.
I am reminded now of the hundreds of people who then, and probably still, think that the U.S. government was to blame for 9-11, or that it was a conspiracy of the Bush administration. Are these the same people who now deny that bin Laden has been killed?
Am I happy that bin Laden is dead? I don’t feel happy. Do I feel safer? No. Now I find myself waiting for some sort of retaliation.
My sister’s wedding was three weeks after 9-11, and I had some trepidation about flying to Boston so soon after the attacks. But then my children were grown. I had no grandchildren. It was easy to say to myself, “Whatever happens, happens. You’ve had a good life.” But now I have grandchildren, and I don’t want them to live in fear, to forever be under attack for being born in the U.S., to have to go to war.
I wish that evil had died in the bunker with Adolph Hitler before I was born, or had died with Osama bin Laden in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, this week. But any student of history or religion knows that evil does not die, and the battle goes on. I guess the only way to fight evil is to believe in goodness and work for freedom. I just wish it weren’t such a violent pursuit.