I do not mourn the death of Osama bin Laden, but neither do I celebrate it. The impulse to cheer upon hearing the news of this man's death is understandable, but we as Americans can do better than flaunting our joy to the world. I would rather we acknowledge the work of our military in achieving it, and appreciate the fact that only a handful of others died in the operation. Justice was done, to be sure, but justice achieved in the context of an ongoing struggle is a solemn occasion, not a joyful one.
I remember being appalled and disgusted at the sight of bin Laden's supporters and admirers cheering the fall of the Twin Towers almost ten years ago. There is no moral equivalency between the deaths of thousands of innocent persons that day and the death of bin Laden now, but nonetheless the sight of Americans cheering in the streets this morning was unsettling to me. It will certainly embolden those who will continue his mission, but I'm more concerned with what it says about us.
For those of us too young to remember World War II, the events of 9/11 were our Pearl Harbor, made even more tragic by the fact that most of those who died were civilians. But bin Laden's death is not our V-Day; peace has not yet been achieved, our fighting men and women aren't all coming home, and the struggle continues. We should reserve our cheers and parades for when the fight is over—only then will we have something to celebrate.
I am very fortunate in that I lost no one close to me on 9/11, but I work with many who did. Staten Island is home to many of New York City's police officers and firefighters, and most everybody at my college who grew up here has a brother or cousin who was lost in the rescue efforts, as well as those who worked in the Towers themselves. On this occasion, let us not cheer the death of Osama bin Laden; even a death that is deserved and just does not merit celebration. Instead, let us honor those who gave their lives then and now, and those who continue to fight against his cause. Please remember those who died serving the cause of freedom, rather than a man worked to take it away.