5.02.2011

Bin Laden's Death: What does it mean to Americans?

I'm sure you've all heard by now that Osama Bin Laden is DEAD.  If not, then I've just informed you and you can view details about the covert operation that lead to his killing and burial at sea at CNN.Com. I'm not posting to give details of the operation, but rather to voice my view of the situation from which the man hunt followed. The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks effected EVERY American, not just those who fell victim and those close to them. On that day the long lived sense of security that defined life in the United States for the entire lifetime of most was killed as well. I witnessed this first hand inadvertantly and the effects of this incident has lived with me every day.

On September 10th, 2001 my husband and I along with our four children boarded a Greyhound bus in San Diego, CA with our final destination being Hartford, CT. My husband was active duty military at the time and had received orders to transfer to Norfolk, VA. We needed time to prepare for the move and my brother in CT was going to take care of our children while we completed our move. We thought taking the Greyhound would be the perfect opportunity for our children to see the country. We had no idea just what we were in for. Early morning Sept. 11th our bus stopped at a small diner in the middle of no where for breakfast & bathroom breaks. I stayed on the bus along with many others and only heard of the "rumor" of an attack on our nation from the bus driver as we pulled away from the diner. He had been told by the waitress that helped him and we were all unsure of the truth behind it. There was something about being in the middle of nowhere looking up at the beautiful early morning sky and the sense of calm that comes over you when you are so far away from the busy city life that seems to disconnect you from the worries of the world. Almost like they are stories from an Alfred Hitchcock production. Out there these things don't seem to really exist, do they?

It wasn't until we reached Rush Springs, Oklahoma that I was able to contact my grand mother who confirmed the twin tower catastrophe. From that moment on our trip to CT took a terrible turn. It started with bomb threats called into numerous Greyhound bus stations which forced Greyhound to set up make shift stations in other random locations in which there was little or no organization. You had to actually take your own luggage from bus to bus in order to ensure that it went with you. All of a sudden there were huge numbers of people at each stop trying to catch a bus because they could not fly. Business men in suits that you would never see on a bus were sitting behind me. There was crying as a passenger told the story of a family member that worked in the twin towers and not knowing if that family member was at work that day. As we came close to New York on the morning of Sept. 12th we learned that we may not be able to go into the city because the bridge may be closed to thru traffic due to bomb threats. We had no clue what we would do if that was the case, but we were lucky and it was open when we came upon it. As we looked out over the city you could still see the smoke billowing up into the sky where the twin towers once stood. That was when my heart sank to my stomach and the realization of what this attack meant set in. Our country was no longer a safe haven for us. All the horrific happenings that seemed to only occur in middle eastern countries had some how proliferated into our country and has become our reality. The streets seemed normal, busy & fast. We pulled into the Greyhound station (which has multiple levels underground), and were let off the bus and given our luggage two stories below ground. As soon as we stepped in the building someone yelled "We just received a bomb threat. Evacuate the building!" My husband & I struggled with 6 suitcases and 4 children. 3 of the kids were able to pull their own luggage, but it was a struggle getting up two flights of stairs. We were approached by individuals offering help and we declined knowing that it was very possible that those with no respect or caring for anyone may be taking advantage of the fear that lived in the hearts of Americans by calling in bomb threats and offering help to get their hands on your luggage by claiming to "Help You" when their motive is really to rob you of your possessions. When we reached the top of the building and could see the street outside we were informed that the threat was over. People were so on edge, and at one point an entire line of people waiting to board a bus started screaming and ran leaving all their luggage. There was no announcement, and as I watched them run away I looked at a Greyhound employee and asked "Was there another bomb threat?" She said no and we never found out why they ran. People were taking any bus they could get on to get out of the city of New York and I cannot describe the relief we felt as we finally pulled out of the bus station headed toward Hartford, CT.

My children went through an experience they will never forget and they live life without that care free, worry free mentality that I grew up with. They were robbed of their sense of security and the death of Bin Laden isn't enough to restore that. It does feel really good to know we have a president who really was trying to find the person behind the face that represented terror. But the happenings on that horrific day in 2001 brought us to the realization that we really don't know if we are in danger and how quickly something so devastating can happen.

I know they cannot disclose the identities of the individuals who risked their lives to infiltrate and take out Bin Laden, but I would like to thank them for the selfless actions they displayed in ending the man hunt.

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