Politics & Media
May 02, 2011, 09:16AM

Hell, I'm Glad He's Dead

Osama Bin Laden (1957-2011).

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Nearly 10 years after 9/11, the feeling was a tiny bit muted, but it was still exhilarating to hear Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden was killed by the USA. It’s a little weird to be so jubilant over another person’s death, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the spontaneous celebration across the country is justified. Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda wreaked havoc on our soil, but that trauma was especially overwhelming and lasting in Lower Manhattan, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA. 9/11 was the defining moment of my family’s life, and it’s a joyous relief to know the man responsible is six feet under (sans virgins).

Living in Lower Manhattan immediately after 9/11 and into 2002 was a nightmare. Evacuated shortly after the attacks, camping out at my eldest uncle’s uptown apartment, we couldn’t go home for two weeks, and when allowed back into our Tribeca loft all we could smell was the fumes from the crematorium that Ground Zero had become. Dust and ashes covered the roof of our apartment. It was complete and utter Hell. My parents saw people jump from the Trade Center towers with their own eyes, and live with it every day. Posters of missing persons covered walls across the city, makeshift and heartbreaking shrines dotted the landscape, and for months despondence was the prevailing mood. No zombie horror film could come close to real life. Even at the age of nine, I understood what had happened and immediately knew what it meant: the world, and my life, would never be the same.

Osama Bin Laden was as much an unambiguous symbol for Evil for my generation as Hitler was 60 years earlier. I think pretty much every kid in my third grade class that year had either an Osama dartboard or toilet paper with his face on it well into 2002. The red hot hate I felt for him 10 years ago dimmed, and honestly I thought we’d never know where he ended up—that kidney condition could’ve killed him years ago. I’d forgotten the bitterness, but this unexpected news has brought it all back. To my generation, he was our Devil, and for five years after 9/11 I was sure another attack was just around the corner. I was absolutely certain we’d be done in by a nuclear attack on July 4, 2002, or that the Statue of Liberty would topple and take my house with it. I still get nervous on planes.

I’ve seen a few people bemoan the spontaneous celebration this news has caused on Facebook, and while it is a confusing mix of emotions, the little boy in me is relieved to see Bid Laden perish. He gave my brother and me endless nightmares and left us unsure whether we would survive the next day for months. The direction our country took after 9/11 was confused and bungled, and we quickly lost the unity that the attacks brought us. To New Yorkers and kids my age, Osama Bin Laden was the face of Pure Evil, and his death is more of a symbolic triumph than anything else, since Al-Qaeda lives on. In 2001 I wished every day for the death of Osama Bin Laden, and 10 years on, I have no qualms rejoicing in his demise.

I hope the fucker burns.

  • Little over the top Nicky. I too am glad this chapter is over but really? Osama is this generations Hitler? The man has been impotent for years. Sure he is a symbol, but that is about it. What about Ahmenidjad? What about Kim Jong Il? Osama was much more Tommy Tutone (867-5309) than Michael Jackson.

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  • Over the top? Are you serious? You're talking about a teenager's reaction from 10 years ago when he lived in the thick of the debris that was Lower Manhattan. The Daily News' headline got it right: "Rot in Hell!"

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  • Exactly my point. Nicky is now old enough to realize that there is greater and more effective evil in the world than one neutered terrorist. Like I said earlier, I too am glad that this terrorist is gone, but Hitler he is not. Hitler decimated entire societies, Osama destroyed none. Hitler's troops killed over a million, Osama, less then 10K. Ahmenidjad and Kim Jong Il have developed nuclear weapons, Osama did not (as far as we know). The big mistake made by the U.S. after the WTC attack was elevating this jerk to Hitler like infamy. By doing so, the U.S. wasted years attacking the symptom and not the problem, while giving it's enemies a rallying point and cause.

  • No, the biggest mistake was the Clinton administration not taking bin Laden into custody when Syria offered him up in '96.

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  • Actually Russ, I was talking post 9/11. If you want to talk about mistakes prior to 9/11, the biggest was supporting and supplying this nut job when the Russians were in Afghanistan. Who was that genius, Reagan?

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  • Nicky, You nailed in on the head--100%. While talk show hosts are interviewing psychologists to help us understand our feelings and help us explain to our kids how to deal with the death of bin Laden, you have written it down from a unique perpective of a nine year old who saw it, smelled and lived it. I wouldn't change a word. Thanks for an amazing article. Ringo

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  • I surmise that Mr. Smith's mother lived with a vague fear of diving under her desk when the Russians started dropping nukes on us. His experience is closer to home. Good job, Smith.

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  • Well said young man, some people may not understand, but as someone who was in the Marine Corps during 9/11 it fealt like I didn't wake up for the next 2 years. When I did wake up I realized some of my friends were no longer there and there was a definite toll my body and mind had paid. I just hope someone stuffed a pork chop in his mouth before they flushed him out to see.

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  • Thank you for your service, Sir.

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