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Death of bin Laden Reminds Us to 'Never Forget'

Everyone has their own story to tell about 9/11. Here's mine.

Let’s face it.

Osama bin Laden isn’t someone you have been thinking about as you’ve been going about your daily lives for the last few years.

For most of us, keeping a roof over our heads and making sure our kids are happy, safe and educated have been our immediate focus. But the news last night that bin Laden had been killed brought all the terrible feelings of 9/11 and the months that followed flooding back into our collective consciousness.

For me, I was again reminded of my own experience calling my mother frequently that day trying desperately to get news about my oldest brother.

He was living in New York on that day and worked in the financial services industry, and no one in our family could reach him.

It wasn’t the first time we’d worried about his whereabouts. He’d spent six years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and saw action in both Somalia and the first Gulf War.

I knew that his office in New York was located near Rockefeller Center—relatively far from the attack's epicenter, but not being able to reach him left the mind racing. At about 3 p.m. that day, my mom received word from him, saying he had not been near Ground Zero when the attack came. He would later describe to us the devastation he witnessed and told us of two friends that he lost that day.

As a jaded journalist, I sometimes get annoyed with others in this business who insist on asking people far removed from a tragedy how they felt when they heard the news. The answers usually seem to lessen the experiences of those who actually lived through whatever happened.

But 9/11 is different.

The attacks of that day were not only made on the nearly 3,000 that lost their lives, but on all of us. It didn’t matter if your uncle’s brother’s cousin was living in New Jersey or if a family member died that day; we all shared and continue to share the horrific memories.

So, with the news that the man behind 9/11 has finally been killed, we can all take a personal satisfaction knowing that justice truly has been served. We have reason to celebrate. The men and women of our military have again proven they are the best and brightest this country has to offer.

Yesterday I drove with my family through a small town in central Illinois. As we drove along a street I noticed a larger than normal American flag hanging from the front of a house. Inside the picture window of the home hung a huge sign that said “9/11/01 Never Forget.” I thought to myself: “Wow, it’s been a while since I thought about that.”

It’s true that Americans who were alive on that day must never forget, but maybe in the days, weeks and months to come we can take a small measure of comfort in today's proof that as Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Summer Scott May 02, 2011 at 04:07 PM
I was living in a small town in England and my husband and I were searching for something to watch on TV. Our timing was so that we were watching live as the 2nd plane struck the twin towers. It took a while to realize we weren't watching a movie. I was glued to the TV for hours, unable to move and unable to reach my family in the Chicago area. The coverage I was watching twice erroneously mentioned attacks in Chicago - they just misspoke but it was a long time before I knew that for sure. Luckily I was in a very supportive country, but I still felt quite alone.
douglas webb May 03, 2011 at 12:17 AM
I don't understand what would bring people to do something so horrific. None of those people deserved what they got. All those familys torn apart, and scared for life. But at least bin laden got what was coming to him, and America sent them a message. You mess with our people's lives your gonna loose yours.

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