Crowds gather last night at Ground Zero in celebration of Bin Laden's death. (AP Photo)
I went to bed early last night, dozing off half-way through Game of Thrones after a nice long day of comradery, BBQ, music, and sports with friends. A typical Spring Sunday somewhere in America. Well rested, I woke up at 6:30am to a sun drenched sky, with the chirping of birds outside my Cambridge window serving as an alarm clock. Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I walked down to the dojo (what others may call their office) to begin formulating my post for this morning's SawxBlog entry. Lord knows I had plenty to write about, between Crawford's walk off at Fenway, to the Celtic's sketchy & sloppy playoff game in Miami. I figured the post would write itself, and I was right, I just didn't realize sports would be absent from it. Per my morning tradition, I went to the New York Times website to be greeted with stunning news staring at me in all caps. "BIN LADEN IS DEAD"
Now this was unexpected and shocking. Bin Laden had turned into a real life Keyser Söze for the American psyche, and seemed more mythical than real. We'd seen grainy footage of him touting an AK-47 through forgotten caves speaking on the ill's of America and claiming war on our land. But that real Bin Laden, while still hated with a vehement venom, had given way to more of a parody than anything. He was something to be mocked on Saturday Night Live or in some low budget teen movie, and for a lot of American's his capture seemed as evasive as Castro's.
I moved to Boston on September 9th, 2001 - just two short days before the tragic and confusing times of 9/11. I had just put myself through college, becoming the first in my immediate family to earn a degree, and was bright eyed, optimistic, and as hopeful as any 21 year old could be. I had a job all but lined up with a local record label, and was going to crash of the couch of two gracious friends until I got my feet on the ground. Then the planes were hijacked. The towers came down. The Pentagon burned, and thousands of civilian's died in horrific and cataclysmic ways. America, for the next couple of weeks got really, really weird. I remember standing on the roof of my Allston apartment as F-16 fighter jets continually circled over Boston, buzzing my thoughts with their crackling jets as tears streamed down my cheeks. I cried for the loss of life. I cried for the great city of New York. I cried for the loss of innocence. I cried for the uncertainty my life had been sprung into. Just two weeks prior I interviewed for a job basically in the shadow of the Towers, over at Columbia University, and my getting that job or not was the difference between Boston and New York.
The 9/11 attacks delayed the start of my career by years. The job I had lined up fell through, and I ended up sleeping on that couch for 12 months, working various odd jobs to barely scrape by. I was lucky though. I had lost no one that day, I still had my education, and lived in what I consider to be a great country, with great people. You can't achieve the American Dream without struggle, and while times were hard for a lot after that day, people banded together and helped one another out.
I was never comfortable with the faux Patriotism that people emitted afterwards though. I wasn't, and am not, comfortable with the creation of Homeland Security as a result. I wasn't comfortable with my privacy being sacrificed in order to be "safe". I wasn't comfortable with how 9/11 was dressed up like a Prom Queen and used as an excuse for things that had nothing to do with that tragic day. Bin Laden may be dead now, but when you're taking off your shoes at the airport, or hearing announcements on the Terror Level over loud speakers that's a direct result of his legacy. I'm glad that Bin Laden was finally made to pay for his actions, and I do believe it's some-sort of justice. I just don't like to cheer or wave flags when people get shot in the head, maybe I'm not Roman enough. But those crowds gathering last night chanting "USA! USA!" like they just left Lake Placid sure reminded me of the crowds gathering after 9/11 - and those crowds made me very uneasy.
I hope this brings some solace to those who lost people ten years ago, and also honor to the brave kids who've sacrificed their lives and time in pursuit of Bin Laden and his cronies. I just have a lot of mixed emotions on what has happened since the Towers went down. I'm glad this chapter's over that's for sure, but the fear Bin Laden created, and the way that fear was further manipulated in this country are still alive and breathing, and that kinda makes me feel like a 21 year old, standing on a roof in Allston.