I am not happy when anything interrupts my Sunday ritual. From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. I am plugged into 60 Minutes and have been so for many years. I was about to grumble when the program was interrupted on May 1, 2011.
Having spent many years in the television production industry and unfortunately, having seen too many national tragedies announced on TV (when president Kennedy was shot, comes to mind), I knew that a scrolling banner announcing the president was about to speak on a Sunday night was significant news…and it certainly was.
I had given up hope that the world would ever see Osama bin Laden brought to justice. I was taught to never wish anyone deal. Not exactly; as my family was Jewish, with some having been sent to concentration camps.
When I wrote by first letter to the editor in the early 1950s, I wanted Nazi criminals like Adolph Eichmann to be tried in Israel. His worst punishment would be to perform hard, manual labor to grow the state of Israel.
As a New Yorker, I was speechless when I watched my television in horror, as I saw the first plane run into the World Trade Center. In my daze, I thought the Today Show must be running a movie review early, as I swore I had just seen a plane run into the World Trade Center!
As we were all to realize, it was true. Even though my late husband was a decorated Marine and served during World War 11, he was openly crying when we watched the World Trade Center; a symbol of all that is right with America… crumble.
It took several hours of television observation to realize what was true. Like millions of others, I began the long process of locating friends and family who lived in New York. I would later learn that a cousin was killed at the World Trade Center. Ironically, he never went into Manhattan; save for the day he had to go to sign his pension papers. He would not live to his retirement.
Getting only voice mail on my dearest friend’s cell phone made me very nervous. I knew they were regular travelers to Florida to visit her father. I called continuously until I heard her voice. Even though I had awakened her after a few anxious days, I am frozen with her response when I asked how they were: “I cannot believe I was in the same airspace with the bastards!”
As a devout news junkie, I have read my newspapers and switched between watching television and seeking online news. The major news reporters have been in awe as to the expanse of social media; particularly Facebook and Twitter and patch.com.
I gave up whatever I intended to do last Sunday night and switched from one news station to another. Details, somewhat slow in coming because they were actually verifying facts, continued to come forth!
The most quoted words I heard: “He was hiding in plain sight.” He was not hiding in a cave in the mountains, he was living in the open, in luxury in a mansion located about 35 miles from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capitol. The compound where bin Laden was found was about one thousand feet from Pakistan’s main military academy located in Abbottabad.
According to the news report I just listened to on CNN, the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Osama bin Laden hit behind a human shield; one of his wives.
I have always been proud to be an American but my heart swelled and my eyes grew moist as I watched demonstrations of joy being held outside the White House and at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.
I know our joy of seeing the world rid of this cancer must be short-lived; as there will doubtlessly be retribution from Al Qaeda. I see now as the time to return to being an enthusiastic American and that means being vigilant to our enemies.
While I am comforted that I did not have to go to an airport to board a plane today, I have promised myself that the next time I go through security, I will not complain about my metal knee setting off the alarms. I will say, as load as my vocal cords will allow, “I am proud to be an American.”