By Nic Gibbs |Staff Writer|
Dusk was setting on the final night at Stage Coach 2011 and I stood listening to Carrie Underwood break into the timeless hymn “How Great Thou Art” when I got a text message that read, “Osama bin Laden is dead.”
Soon I began hearing the chants, “USA! USA!” as the news was starting to spread.
Rascal Flatt’s bassist, Jay DeMarcus, came onto the stage and announced to over 55,000 people that “that son of a **** Osama bin Laden is dead!”
The crowd went wild.
Shortly after President Barack Obama informed the nation about the death of one of FBI’s most wanted carried out by the hands of the U.S. military, American citizens began gathering in the streets.
Some went and stood together singing “God Bless America” at the site where the Twin Towers once stood.
Others ran through the streets chanting “Ding dong the witch is dead!”
Few expressed opinions of disgust at how Americans were celebrating the news.
I stood there amongst my fellow Americans, amidst chants praising this victory in our war against terrorism, and I did not know how to react.
The swell of emotions inside me urged me to join.
The patriotic act of thousands chanting together began to sway me to join.
And, for a minute, I did.
But something seemed wrong with the celebration and because I was told about bin Laden’s death before most of the crowd, I had had some time to think.
This was a truly historic event and it will go down as one of those that you say to your kids, “I knew where I was when I heard the news.”
In his address to the nation Obama stated, “…his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
But should we have been partying in the streets?
Obama also stated in his address, “Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.”
In the heat of the moment, amongst a crowd of people filled with emotion I can certainly understand this reaction.
I am not saying don’t react, don’t get together and don’t respond emotionally to this news. I am asking that we stop and think about an appropriate reaction to the type of news we received.
The death of bin Laden resurfaces the emotions felt during and post 9/11. We were brought together by sadness felt for those affected and lost. We mourned together as a nation for the losses we incurred.
We also reacted in fear.
The terrorists succeeded in this way and brought a feeling of dread and fright to our nation.
Fear of future attacks, fear of terrorists and an irrational misguided fear of Muslims we knew very little about.
Perhaps cheering in the streets comes from the fear we felt when we heard this evil man’s name.
It is a reaction to the fear the terrorists wanted.
In bin Laden’s death we have an opportunity to respond against the fear. If we do, we deny him martyrdom.
Perhaps a more appropriate response is to return to the sadness we felt and treat bin Laden’s death as another step towards bringing closure to the families forever effected by 9/11.