We were watching The Killing, AMC's taut Seattle murder procedural drama, when we noticed the tweets about an unscheduled Sunday night statement from President Obama. National security, it seemed. No immediate leaks to the dozens of reporters and bloggers speculating on what the news might mean. So we flipped on the Mets game, which was knotted at one in Philadelphia. But my mind was already turning back to the smoke and those people covered with ash walking just below on the Manhattan streets. Sometimes the nervous system knows before the intellect.
Then Twitter spoke up. The lid was lifted. Bin Laden was indeed dead and gone, killed in a raid by American special forces. For some reason, I thought of the fighter jets and their contrails over New York in that impossibly blue sky. Those pilots may all be retired from the military for all I know. I'm a lot older, that's for certain. There has been loss. And I'm aware, day by the day, that much of this society has lost its way because of Osama bin Laden's spectacular plot to attack the United States.
My kids were in grade school single digits; one was still a toddler on that day when they waited for me to come home. Last night, they remembered the announcements at school and how they learned about the attacks. Last week, I was telling an audience of corporate grantmakers that much of the skepticism of America's youngest generation was forged in the heat of 9/11 and in the wars that followed. So it was not surprising to see the young crowds outside the White House or down at what used to be Ground Zero - this is a major event for that generation.
Like many, I've tired of the 9/11 spectacle and those who used it, and leverage its ghostly specters still. I dislike how our country has changed and what it means to some of our essential freedoms. But Goddamn it I was glad they killed that murdering bastard. Last night, I went to bed thankful for the President's word. Mainly for New York. Mainly for my home.
UPDATE: Other blogger pals o' mine weigh in, and I'm being selective toward the long-timers because of my (possibly missplaced) belief that so much of the early blogging came from the very public nature of 9/11 and our need to talk about it.
Jim Wolcott: "It's taken so long for his death to come (although it's been rumored for years, that he was being used as a useful ghost to keep the specter of terrorism alive) that I didn't think I'd be tearful when word finally came, that his death would be a long overdue postscript to a terrible decade, but I was wrong. I was telling someone this weekend that those who moved to NY in 2004 or 2005 have no idea of what it was like in the first few years after 9/11, the shadow it cast in the back of everyone's mind; like the shadow thrown by John Lennon's murder, but more cataclysmic in its scale of shock and sorrow."
Lance Mannion: "In the grand scheme of things, Bin Laden is more responsible than George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama for the wars and the deaths. He was proud of this. He wanted it. It’s what he planned for. He wanted the bodies piled up in the streets. Not just American bodies. It’s even a question as to how much he really cared about killing Americans. We were a means to an end. He wanted Muslim bodies in the streets all over the Mideast. He wanted to see his world burn. If ours went up in flames along with it, all the better."
M.A. Peel: "I am a fan of Daily News headlines. They out-Posted the Post, which had the more milktoast “Got Him!” This is not a serious theological dictate. No, this is old school, salt-of-the-earth New Yorker attitude. (Like when Bogart’s Rick tells the Nazi Strasser “Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade.”)