May 4th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

My Take: No apology for celebrating after bin Laden's death

Editor's Note: Lauren Kolodkin is an undergraduate student at Boston University; among her professors is CNN Belief Blog contributor Stephen Prothero, who wrote that the celebrations that followed bin Laden's death made him cringe.

By Lauren Kolodkin, Special to CNN

For the past 10 years, my generation has had it pretty bad.

Our youth was taken away by the attacks on 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our teen years were pockmarked by the Great Recession. Our college days are splattered with political unrest. And when we graduate from college, we will emerge overeducated and underprepared into an America with no jobs, no opportunities and no hope.

My generation has been told for years that our world is a place where there is little reason to celebrate anything.

But then, on Sunday night, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda, mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001, was killed in Pakistan. The man who murdered thousands of Americans and instigated the war on terror is finally gone. And my generation celebrated.

Hundreds of college students across the city gathered in Boston Common and cheered together. I went from my dorm at BU. We cursed bin Laden and sang rousing renditions of “God Bless America.” We smiled and laughed and waved at cameras. A friend of mine turned to me and said, “Someday we’ll talk about this with our children. This is amazing.” For a night, at least, we forgot our troubles and reveled in the joy of our peers.

But what exactly were we celebrating that night? Someone’s death?

I know some students who shied away from the celebrations, in Boston and elsewhere, because they felt uncomfortable cheering someone else’s demise. We are taught by our parents, by God, by the world around us that life is sacred, and death is a time for reflection, not revelry. For some people, this death renews memories of a mother or father lost, a friend gone or a life ruined.

Closure is rarely delivered by vengeance, and this death surely isn’t the end of our sorrow. A bullet through the icon of terror does not bring your sister or brother back, it doesn’t rebuild the twin towers, and it doesn’t erase a decade of sadness and hardship.

I cannot imagine what it would have been like to lose someone on 9/11. I’m not from New York. I don’t know anyone who works at the Pentagon. No one I knew died on that day. But I remember watching my fourth grade teacher cry that morning and refusing to tell us why, because she’d been instructed to leave that grim task to our parents.

I remember getting off the bus to find my mother waiting to tell me what had happened. I remember seeing the smoke on the television screen, choking me from a distance, clips of disaster playing over and over again.

I remember seeing Osama bin Laden’s face for the first time. I was 9 years old.

My generation is cursed by those images of horror and destruction. We are cursed by that face. And since that day, we have been burdened with the consequences.

But on May 1, 2011, something changed. A man who hurt so many people will never hurt anyone again. I know that this is not the last of horrible men, but at least it is the last of this horrible man, this symbol of hatred and war and bloodshed.

That is why my generation celebrated on Sunday night and Monday morning. We did not celebrate his death; we celebrated the dawn of a new day without bin Laden. We celebrate because maybe the world isn’t as bad as they told us. We celebrate because we can.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lauren Kolodkin

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Death • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism

soundoff (642 Responses)
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  5. Really?

    Why take this celebration to the streets? you see there is a huge growing hatred for america for it's involvement militarily in other countries! Especially in the middle east. They are pulling out and leaving the region shattered by war and economic collapse, there is nothing to celebrate because another figure head will take his place.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Joseph

      This man (or woman) is right, there is little to celebrate about! The Taliban is like Medusa, chop one head off and another one will grow. Save the celebrations for when the whole organisation has been eliminated

      September 1, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  6. Jena Hirsh

    I wish I could be as cheerfully ignorant as the author of this article.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  7. Chris

    You and your generation have it bad!!! Miss a day at the mall? Break a nail? You have got to be kidding me. How has 9/11 and the subsequent wars impacted you? Are you on rationed food? Powdered Milk? Have you had to learn how to shoot a gun to kill a man or find food? Is your father and brother off at war to fight for their land?

    You are at Boston College. You are among the world's elite and privileged.

    I'm so sorry you missed you latte this morning!

    August 24, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Enjoying my Latte

      Generations are defined by their OWN problems, not those that come before or after. Can you compare America's Great Depression with the lives of child soldiers fighting in Uganda? Or those being trafficked in Napal with the England riots? No, no you can't. Trials are not meant to be compared, they are meant to be overcome. So, I WILL put ice in my coffee because it is too hot, and I will thank God that that is the worst of my problems.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  8. studdmuffins

    Though I didn't celebrate, I'm glad he's up for judgment from the highest power.

    Sadly, his type of hatred did not die with him.

    I take issue with the author's use of the phrase "no hope." There is always hope.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  9. Meoshewu

    This is typical of Americans to celebrate the death of others. However, they are never aware or even blind to the fact that America has disrupted the daily lives of others around the world and have lead the own terrorizes tactics against other in a result of getting their own way. The death of Bin Laden was and is a small thing compare to the others in the Muslim religion who are growing with a passionate hate for America and its silent practices against others. This is a never ending cycle that would never end. It is so funny that even the war that was started based off lies and murdered Sadam Hussien is still going after all these years without justification. And yet still we run to the polls as if we have some power to control the govt when the Republicans can steal a election on the world stage if they feel like it. I just hope a 9/11 occur in England too, since those idiots was a major part of backing the war. Fools.

    July 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • JesusFreak800,000,942

      Thats a HORRIBLE!! comment America was given the power we have by God to keep peace in the world. As long as terrorists live I will fight them. And I hope America will too. Your at a point where your throwing away morality. 1. You don't want to stand up for someone else. 2. YOU HOPE THAT THE TERRORISTS BOMB MORE PEOPLE IN ENGLAND.
      I will give my life for any person in Iraq, Aghanistan, Pakistan (etc.) Right now people are killing them. We cannot be so selfish as to stop the war on terror, and give them up to the terrorists. There are still people in America who would fight for others, even if the war won't end, I am one of those Americans.

      July 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  10. Misha

    So, then when people celebrate the death of Americans, that's okay, if they feel like it's the beginning of the end of the US's reign of terror in their country?

    July 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  11. Tic-Tac

    On the day of 9/11, the man who purportedly destroyed 3000 people at the trade center said, HE didn't do it, but he was glad someone did. Now, this is a man who considered himself a celebrity, a star in HIS world; yet, he does NOT take credit for the greatest catastrophe in the U.S. since Pearl Harbor?! Oh, much later he takes credit but by then, it is a whimper. Perhaps he was forced to do so by his official alliances & close relatives, the ones that Cheney/Bush jetted away to safety that week. Immediately after the attacks, we were told by the Cheney/Bush PR-media that, without any investigation whatsoever, OBin was responsible. And then, the clean up too soon follows. Oh, yes, that silt searching clean-up that never was – with all the dirt immediately shipped off around the world with the bodies of the slain and evidence piled inside. Come ON people....THINK! Investigate how early the Cheney/Bush machine took over the oil fields in Iraq and gave their willing workforce, the subjugated Kurds, northern Iraq even before war was declared. "There are no coincidences, particularly when they fall like ninepins." What corporations gained from all that lovely, captured oil? Remember the mighty men of commerce & oil seated in Cheney's wigwam for the energy summit directly before 9/11? They were the victors dividing the spoils even before they were acquired. Now, the ringleaders have left office and enjoy those spoils: Iraq's oil profits plus over 15 trillion unaccounted for from the treasury. But, before they left office, they flung the economy into financial jeopardy and obscured their misdeeds – SMART! 9/11 proved that we truly live in the Age of Lies & Murder & Deceit! So yes, the murderous OBin deserved to be caught and not mourned. But, other orchestrators deserve to be held accountable as well. History will one day bear this out and we will not believe what these "official" ringleaders were capable of; what they prepared for, for when given power. NOW, however, many of us, once again, want to give FULL power to their enablers in 2012! Our STUPIDITY would know no bounds because when history is not learned, it repeats, and repeats, and repeats, and repeats, infinitum!!

    June 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • toma

      well said .........; i like it when people think .............. americans are too stupid to investigate and take a second look at wut reallly is going on ................ glad i read ur comment ......... ..

      July 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  12. MasterKat

    Bin Laden was a horrible person. But I'm amazed that this article is posted in the 'religion blogs' section. Celebrating another person's death is NOT a christian thing to do and there's no religious way to justify it. It comes from the same place that lead to 9/11 in the first place. It's a dark part of the human condition and it breeds more injustice, more violence, more hate. I think killing Osama was in the United States' best interest, but I don't consider that necessary evil a cause for celebration.

    In all reality, the consequences of 9/11 did more damage and had a far greater impact on the people born during my generation who were unfortunate enough to be born in Afghanistan and Iraq. You think you had a difficult time of it? I am from NYC. I thank God everyday I'm not from Kabul. America suffered one day of hysteria and tragedy. Afghanistan has suffered a decade of it. Empathy is another Christian trait, or so my pastor tells me.

    June 26, 2011 at 4:49 am |
    • Ricka Wash

      Wow....I am so glad you wrote that! I never even thought about it that way, but that is so true! We don't know how it is like for the people of our generation in middle eastern countries that have to live with the war right in their own backyards...its devastating. I think that instead of thanking God Osama was killed we should be Thanking God that we live in a country that we don't have to live with that

      August 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
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    June 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  14. Muneef

    [55:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

    [55:1] The Most Gracious.

    [55:2] Teacher of the Quran.

    [55:3] Creator of the human beings.

    [55:4] He taught them how to distinguish.

    [55:5] The sun and the moon are perfectly calculated.

    [55:6] The stars and the trees prostrate.

    [55:7] He constructed the sky and established the law.

    [55:8] You shall not transgress the law.

    [55:9] You shall establish justice; do not violate the law.

    [55:10] He created the earth for all creatures.

    [55:11] In it there are fruits, and date palms with their h-anging fruit.

    [55:12] Also grains and the sp-ice-s.

    [55:13] (O humans and jinns,) which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?

    [55:14] He created the human from aged clay, like the potter's clay.

    [55:15] And created the jinns from bla-zing fire.

    [55:16] (O humans and jinns,) which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?


    May 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  15. Kathy

    I'm sorry that I didn't celebrate a man's death. Yes, he did some terrible things. I don't care about generational stuff and blah b lah blah. 9/11 hurt everyone, we should be focusing more on the better things like strengths our care for people than political bs. Ha I laugh at this so called nation being Christian. That's not the Christian thing to do. When ya'll sit there and cheer for this man's death, you many never know that someone is wishing for your demise. I'm just saying "real talk." You people better start learning.

    May 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.