I saw the Breaking News Flash on the screen of my computer. The President was to speak at 10:30 on an undisclosed subject? What? It was 10:20 and I saw the light still on in M’s room, so I went in. As I was explaining the unusualness of the President requesting air time late on a Sunday night, my younger daughter padded in. “Have we been contacted by aliens?” she asked.
“Oh, how exciting that would be!” I answered. “But extremely not likely.”
We only had to watch the television a few minutes to find out what had happened. Both of the girls knew the name Bin Laden and knew he was connected to the attacks of September 11. Growing up in a town that is referred to as a bedroom community for the Pentagon, both have friends who lost parents that day. But neither understood what the fuss was about.
I tried my best. I really did. I talked about leadership and the power of personality beyond just strategy. I talked about symbolism, revenge, and retaliation, and yes, justice. We talked about “Mission Accomplished” and yellow cake in a State of the Union address. We talked about all the people we know who serve in the military, and what that means to their families, our government and our economy. We talked about feeling safe, and how the rest of the world looks at us and at our culture.
M thought Bin Laden would be better to us alive. I agreed, but told her after 10 years of alluding capture, it probably an impossibility to take him anyway but dead, either by our hand or his.
H wanted to know if her dad will be safe flying home from California.
Neither thought it was appropriate to be happy about the death of someone, but both thought it would be cool to drive to the White House and watch the celebrating.
I guess I’m pretty happy with that response, all things considered.