Like many people with consciences, I have mixed feelings about cheering the death of an individual, it just doesn’t feel right in many ways. But when I look back on that day in 2001 when I was out painting the trim on my garage and my wife came out and said, “you better come in here” and I did. We had some contractors at the house too and invited them in to watch what was happening. I still remember talking to my wife as I was watching the television and seeing the first tower start to collapse, we all let out an audible gasp. I remember thinking, oh my god, how many people were still in that building. It was horrifying, a memory that will never fade.
I think about walking around in a daze for the next couple of weeks, how the campus I work at was somber, everyone walked around stunned. We had a vigil at the clock tower on that day and classes were optional for the next two days. Counseling was available to students, faculty and staff. I think about how I was glad my mother wasn’t alive to see this, she had passed just a year before. It would have been devastating to her, as someone who served her country in World War II and worked at the Pentagon, where one of the attacks occurred.
So as I think back to those days, I have a larger context for what is happening with the celebrations. As a country, we were all attacked on 9/11 and even though I have never been a person who thinks revenge is justice, I can’t help but feel closure as an American. I can’t help but feel joy for those families who watched the same live coverage that I did, knowing that a family member may very well be in those buildings. I can’t help but be relieved that this man will never order another attack, will never kill an innocent person, will no longer be able to put out a video tape our audio tape gloating about his killing of innocent people.