Ten years ago, I went to sleep after watching the end of the 8th inning of the 2001 World Series. That was the World Series when the Yankees were playing to win back happiness from the depths of post 9/11 depression that existed in NYC. I'm not a Yankees fan, and I never thought about that aspect during the series - just that they wouldn't 4peat. When I woke up, I found that they lost and I was in jubiliation at the Diamondbacks victory. I made sure that I made any Yankee fan who crossed my path suffer for Rivera's defeat at the hands of Luis Gonzalez's bloop single. In the end, I never thought I could wake up to better news.
About 2 weeks ago, I watched 9 Innings at Ground Zero and was visibly moved by the aspect of baseball bringing America together (from Bush's World Series first pitch to Jeter's heroics to the Mets captivating America by making a run for their own pennant). Much of it is very powerful. It's actually impossibly to watch without tears, but it takes us back to an America that hasn't existed since the great partisan divide of the Iraq War (for better or for worse).
Today, I woke up to much better news - Osama was dead. It turned out that if I stayed up another half hour or so, I would have heard the news as the reporters broke into it. Nevertheless, I wanted to shout "USA, USA, USA" like the hordes of joyous celebration at West Point, in the subways, in Times Square, and from the Philadelphia / Mets game. It was about 615 and my wife was still asleep, but I wanted to wake her up to tell her, but she still had about an hour before her alarm clock was set to go off, so I split it down the middle and told her at 645. When I did, she asked me if something was wrong, and all I could say was "we killed Bin Laden. The most wanted terrorist in the world was now dead, and everything had changed. The air of celebrations hit home. And with that, in many ways, it was like America came together again - save a few comments from anonymous You Tube posters and the like speculating conspiracy or judging whether it was hypocritcal to kill a mass murderer for murdering our people.
In the hindsight of a million news stories, I have to admit that there were times that I wondered if we'd ever get him. Years and years of wondering why Bush was failing and finally Obama made it a point to get him, and somehow, we got the intel to make it happen, and I have to say that I'm just glad that we did.
In the classes that I taught today, we briefly looked at all of the headlines from all of the major news sources, the blog sites (Huffington Post and Townhall), and Al Jazeera (Arab news network). It's interesting to see the difference, to see the words of Obama (we watched him on You Tube), and to contemplate what Bush would have done. It's amazing to think about how things have changed, and as I sit here, there are scary things, too.
I called my parents to tell them it happened, and they knew. My mom was reflecting on how they're quacks over there and would do something while wondering about the need for celebration ("but this was how it was at the end of World War 2"). I know that there will be some semblance of retaliation. We must be ever vigilant to that... we're not in a 9/10 world anymore, but that said... there is something powerful about the moment... the change.
Ayman al-Zawahiri is still out there. There are plenty of lunatics ready to make jihad and suffering on the West. The war has not been won (or lost) and yet there are people who will contemplate what we should do now that Bin Laden has finally died.
Sometimes, the world just becomes too real for sports. One has to wonder about all of the changes and events of the weekend and stop and think... to find time to enjoy the simple things, but all the same, to pause and reflect and remember our history and our future.
And to remain ever mindful.