By: Shawn Davis
I’ll begin by saying I LOVE my country and I’m proud to be an American! It’s Independence Day, baby.
There are certain events that – when they take place – you always remember where you were. The September 11th attacks, the Columbine killings, Obama’s presidential confirmation, etc. Another monumental occasion worthy of mention took place on May 2nd (or May 1st depending on your time zone): The death of Osama Bin Laden. I wrote about it two months ago in my journal (I keep a travel scribe when I’m overseas) and I’ll share it now.
From my journal on the morning of May 4th (Barcelona Airport):
Where do I begin? Ok…got it! On May 2nd of 2011, a team of U.S. Navy Seals located and killed Osama Bin Laden. Whoa! Approaching the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 he has been captured and killed. How do I feel? So proud to be an American! I woke up that morning – after a night partying with some of the hottest Spanish women I’ve ever seen – just to see what was going on at espn.com and it was the featured story on the landing page. Looking at it for a few minutes, my eyes bulged and I sat at the computer completely numb. In layers, I began processing what it all meant and what the future holds for my country, specifically, in the area of security.
Will Bin Laden followers become even more daring and elaborate in their plans to topple us? I feel they will look to him as a martyr – in some sick way – and attempt to “honor” him by trying to make what occurred 10 years ago just the beginning. I have some deep concerns so I hope that the people paid (and elected) to confront these issues are just as diligent to protect…as Bin Laden sympathizers are to kill.
Being overseas, while his was happening at home, made me feel like I wasn’t a true American. It was a very strange spectrum of emotions! As I read more detailed information about the operation that led to his death, I just hoped that all the families and friends of those lost at both World Trade Center attacks, on Flight 93 and The Pentagon attack felt some sort of comfort. I truly hope so. From there my focus shifted to all our armed forces and their families; so many people gave their lives to this mission and I hope their spirits are able to find peace.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I looked at photos of people celebrating at the WTC site. There was a woman propped up on a man’s shoulders draped in our flag, a man dressed as Captain America, a group of firefighters sitting in Times Square seeing the news scroll across the ABC News ticker, motorists convening in D.C. with their flags in hand, a man in a cool American flag suit(spandex-type superhero suit), etc.
A moving photograph captured Arab-Americans with their American flags, showing love for the country. We need to remember that the war on terror IS NOT a war on Muslims or Islam. We must not forget this. Ever! My country is not perfect but I am proud to be an American.
It took me two months to address this event and I’m still not sure why. Being in Spain as this was talking place made me feel sad and all I wanted to do was switch my flight to come back home. Honestly, I felt un-American because I wasn’t on home soil, I was on vacation. One well deserved, but I felt like I was doing something dishonest. Weird. It’s probably a combination of all that and seeing New Yorkers congregate at the World Trade Center made a lasting impression on me – to this very day.
Listen, I’m not here celebrating Bin Laden’s death but he didn’t show one iota of remorse over attacks he orchestrated against Americans, with the intent to kill, so I won’t show any towards him.
Where is this country headed? I wish I knew the answer or one that would please everyone but that just isn’t possible. I’ll just remember those who died in defense of this great nation, those lost for just being American and wipe my eyes with pride once I hear The Star-Spangled Banner.
Happy Birthday America! Looking good for 235 years young.
Photos: Flag, Jason DeCrow/AP; Firefighters, Michael Appleton for The New York Times; Arab-Americans, Carlos Osorio/AP