I received a text message late Sunday night from a friend telling me to turn on the news because Osama bin Laden was dead. I couldn’t believe it. I watched the news for a couple hours wondering what this death meant to America.
I vividly remember watching the news on 9/11 with my then 3 year-old niece sitting on my lap and my father next to me. My dad and I just sat in silence staring at the TV unable to speak about the horror. My niece, too young to comprehend what was happening, did sense that there was an unspoken heaviness in the room. She asked, “What happened, Aunt Tracy?” Her question was so innocent, but no answer was sufficient to the then estimated 30,000+ deaths.
I too remember the President’s speech demanding justice for this heneous act of terrorism. Mr. Bush vowed to avenge the deaths of all the innocent lives lost. The American government supported military operations to prevent future terrorist threats on American soil. Ten years later, we are still fighting a war on terror when news breaks that public enemy #1 has been killed. Cheering and dancing and chanting and signing broke out across America as people flood the streets around Ground Zero and the White House. Mr. Obama announced to the nation that “justice is done.”
In continued news reporting, some have reported that this death brings closure for so many who lost loved ones in the 9/11 events. Some have communicated their sense of justice being served. One woman suggested that seeing bin Laden’s dead body would really solidify closure and justice for her children still grieving their father’s loss in the twin towers.
A man, at ground zero Sunday night, suggested that now America could bring home the men and women fighting in the war on terror and lift security measures in place since 9/11 to protect our nation’s citizens. Somehow one man’s death is supposed to bring an end to 10 years of war and every measure of Homeland Security.
Now, that is horrific – to suggest that one man’s death was the final goal of the war that has cost the nation more lives than were lost on 9/11 and billions of dollars, not to mention the millions of foreign military and civilian casualities who were “collateral damage” in our operations. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
I remember visiting Ground Zero and the memorial in a field in Pennsylvania where flight United 93 crashed. There is a chiling presence of death in the air at those 2 sites that I have never felt anywhere else in the world. America’s innonence died in those towers and on that field and are buried there. Osama bin Laden’s death cannot open those graves and bring forth new life. His death will not usher in the Kingdom of God marking the reign of peace on earth. Osama bin Laden is symbolic of the source of our national fear. His death does not mark the end of national fear and war redeeming us from terrorism.
Only one man’s death, in all of human history, could be claimed to bring peace and justice; that man is not Osama bin Laden. That man is Jesus Christ, Immanuel. In the Easter season, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we read on Sunday in John 20, Christ Jesus is the one who penetrates the locked doors created by our fear. It is Christ’s presence that brings us peace.
Let us continue to celebrate and rejoice in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,