Is rejoicing in the streets appropriate?
Ten years ago this September, I sat in a classroom to watch my childhood end in a pile of carnage, death and mass hysteria. I was too young then to understand much, but I knew that the people who made the towers come down were evil, and the ones who cheered to see so many lives lost were just as bad.
I remember wondering, as I watched Islamic radicals parading in celebration of 3,000 American lives lost, how it could be possible for such depraved minds to be a part of the same human race as me. I tried to imagine myself in their shoes, to understand how meaningless destruction like this could be anything to cheer about, but I just couldn't. There was nothing to understand.
Ten years later, we found the culprit of this horrific deed and successfully eliminated him at last. When I saw the news on TV, all-caps -- OSAMA KILLED AT LAST -- I pumped my fist in the air and whispered a "yes!" The good fight had been won, and now America could breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing the whole world is a safer place for our efforts.
I don't believe a shout for joy was necessary, though. As I sat in my living room and watched the news of Obama's death alongside footage of sign-waving and chanting through the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities, I couldn't help but feel a pang of shame amidst my pride in America's significant step against terrorism.
Is it ever right, I wondered, to celebrate the death of a human being, even one as sick and evil as Osama bin Laden? It is natural we should hate him and be grateful that a longstanding threat to America and human life is eliminated -- but should we really dance on his grave?
By rejoicing in Osama's death, we stoop to the level of the very enemy we killed -- as well as his followers who paraded through Afghanistan when the World Trade Center fell.
In fact, it was hard for me to tell any difference between the terrorists and radicals who paraded in celebration of the Twin Towers falling, and the Americans who were so quick to holler "Thank God Osama's Dead!" before they even asked God if he wanted to be thanked.
Both were celebrating for the same reason: the death of the enemy. They just happened to be on different sides of the coin.
The shame, of course, is that there should be a difference between us and them. Bin Laden was an evil man who unmercifully slaughtered thousands of American civilians, for no reason but to advance his twisted version of the Muslim faith.
For once in our history, we really deserve to be the good guys. Let's not sell ourselves short by adding grey to a situation which is, and should stay, black and white.
Nathan Kitzmann is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.