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)
  1. Allocer

    Pathetic commentary,

    May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Alex Oliveira


    So how do I get published on cnn.com? Apparently you literally need no qualifications other than righteous sanctimony and the narrow view of having seen and done nothing in the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • rman45

      Look dude I agree she made it sound a little too "boo hoo for us" in her article but that doesn't change that its right overall.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  3. Bob

    OBL's death should have been cheered. The only people who wouldn't cheer it are 1) jihadists and 2) western guilt complexed liberals who need to stake out false moral "high grounds" in order to prove their self worth and superiority over the sensibilities of the common man. What better way to do that than to morally scold those who do something as common sensical as cheer a mass murderer's demise? The craven wretchedness of such liberals sometimes seems to exceed even that of jihadists.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      It's called class.

      It's called dignity.

      It's called leading by example.

      It's being better than the lowest common denominator.

      None of which you are / have based on this post.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Bob

      No Alex, it's not any of those things. It's grandiouse moral superiority from liberals who need to feel more "righteous" than the average person.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      I'm sure among you and your friends simply saying "no it's not" passes for argument but you're going to have to bring something a little sharper than a butter knife and a couple poly-syllabic words.


      May 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  4. avery bent

    YOUR STUPID... and Sean your STUPID TOO

    May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  5. avery bent


    May 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      My stupid what? You've written a sentence fragment.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Peace2All

      You guys both have made me chuckle.


      May 28, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  6. Jerry

    I'm pretty happy that Bin Laden is dead too, but we're supposed to be more civilized than publicly celebrating death.

    If some senior figure in the US political or military establishment is assassinated, I don't want to hear you condemning civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq wildly celebrating. We've killed FAR more of their civilians after all.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  7. Sean

    We sould be allowed to celebrate, and evil man is dead, the killer of 3000 of our brothers and sisters, the killer of American troops, and the killer of my dreams. We didnt chose this war, we didnt want to fight, but we had to when they attacked us on that September day. I lost so much as did our great country, but yet we were so united, we were one. and together we went to war. We should be allowed to celebrate, I will be in Afghanistan in a year, my friends are risking everything for us, and now that we killed an evil man, the leader of hate, people are upset, because we were not respectful. I am glad i didnt kill Bin Laden, because I would have made him suffer a horrable death, but we let him die fast, a quick death because we are better than that. I would die for my country, for our United States, and its about time we were United Again, just like that September Day.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Velocity90

    Why is it that kids in college (esp. ones that don't have to worry about being drafted) think that the world evolves around them?
    Lets see, my generation grew up with the assassinations of the Kenndy's and Martin Luther King, civil right unrest, the draft, Charles Manson, Nixon Watergate and THE Vietnam war (where 50,000 Americans died).
    And my parents generation grew up with Hitler, World War 2, the Holocaust, the Korean War.. etc. And their parents grew up with that plus The Great Depression.
    Yep, the world looks bleak right now, so you and the rest of your college friends should get off of your cell phones and stop texting and do something about it. Dancing in the street over someone dying, didn't change anything..... other than convince us of how immature you are.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      No no you don't get it. THEIR problems are super special, just like the rest of this snowflake generation.

      They think because they have smart phones that the world and everything in it is the best and worst at all times and nothing like it has occurred before.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  9. rman45

    I completely agree with this article, especially since I am a part of this generation. I remember the exact same things about 9/11 and how it really changed and ruined a lot of stuff for our generation. And since the majority of people who decide to post on these articles are a bunch of f-tards who have nothing good to say, I would like to say thank you for writing it.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      I agree that most people commenting are a bunch of f-tards...as evidenced by your comment.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  10. CharChar

    Oh, boo-hoo...you have it SO rough. Why dont you whine to the little Lybian girl who just saw her mother blown to bits by a katusha rocket. Stop complaining and man up. At least you have the opportunity to GO to college. Simply awful.

    May 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  11. bigsnow81

    Irony is that in our celebration we have become the very people we dispise. So the cycle continues, violence only begets more violence. How will you ever see laughing at fools like me?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  12. Chris

    For those of you that don't get it. This is not an article or being sold as one, it is a belief blog contribution. So stop complaining.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bilbo

      That's a ironic statement.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      Actiually friend, it's an opinion piece. When you post your opinion you have to listen to that of others. LIke I am doing right now. Or am I not allowed to respond to you either?

      May 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  13. Bilbo

    I don't understand? Isn't every generation experiencing the same thing? Why is yours so special? What was taken away from you? Because I'm still enjoying life after 9/11 and losing my job..Pppfff get over it.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • rjk

      Thank you! I'm not sure any 19 yr old college kids had to foreclose on their house. In addition, what the hell do they remember from 9/11/2001 when they were 9.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      You don't get it, she had to wait 2 weeks to get her iPad 2 because it was sold out on launch date. You have no idea what her generation has had to endure!

      🙂 I hate the sound of privledged college kids and their sanctimony.

      The writer lives in one of the best countries in the world and has been afforded the opportunity to have a quality education that 99.9% of the world can't even dream of.

      ..and she has the tamarity to talk about how much life has sucked. Unreal.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  14. V

    This did happen when you were young. That doesn't mean dance in the street when he dies. Show some common sense, or did that get taken away when the buildings came down as well?

    May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • What did you do today?

      "V," Are you really blasting a blog from a college student? If you don't enjoy CNN, don't read the articles. Build something, because I'm tired of reading comments that tear down people that are trying. Bin Laden's death happened, and I have zero problems with it. In the spectrum of good to bad, this was a pretty bad guy.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Z

      V go do something with your life. Loser.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • rjk

      I kind of agree. If you were nine during the attack, and you can't tell me where you were at the very moment it happened...I'm not sure you even know why you were dancing in the streets other than you're a follower. If you call overeducated being a follower, then yeah you're overeducated.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  15. DB

    Trust me, if anything, you will emerge from college undereducated.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • V

      Yes, trust you, the fountain of knowledge.

      May 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  16. brian

    Jesus was surrounded by terrorist Romans who tortured Jews to death and yet Jesus said to love "your enemies", "pray for those who persecute you" and because of His love, the enemies of the Church knew that Christians were different from people of all other religions who were taught to curse the enemy, kill the enemy and celebrate the death of the enemy.

    Christians were able to turn terrorists into Christians through love and not hate.

    Christians are different and as the Word states, " we are more than conquerors", we have conquered hate through love, we have conquered death through life in Christ and as the Word says regarding terrorists " “For thy sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen !!

    Let us take every opportunity to show love to our enemies and through love we will conquer them for Christ.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • John

      Well Said.
      I know there are a lot of angry people. I was angry on the day of the attacks, but i got over that anger, Anger is what the enemy feeds off of.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Horto013

    Please no more Boston College students. WHY DID I READ THIS, AAAHHH my brain hurts! This is garbage.

    May 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • rebecca

      You're garbage

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  18. stefan

    I watched as the Muslim world cheered the death of American's on 9/11. I watched as Muslim elementary school TEACHERS brought their classes out into the streets to celebrate. I waited for the so-called free thinking Muslims to speak up against the Terrorism, but it never came. 4000 came out in Pakistan to honor Bin Laden last week. Should have taken them out to.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • V

      Retarded viewpoint

      May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Velocity90

      I think that "V" has been right on the money and hitting them right out of the park with their comments.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      BTW everyone seems to forget the muslim "celebraitons" were stock footage from a 3 years previous.

      And refresh my memory, if it happened, was it wrong then or not? If it was wrong...why is it right now? Because now it's American's cheering so it's cool?


      May 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Black Mamba

      Alex Oliveira-

      Chill out sweetheart. Ya this op-ed is a bit of an exaggeration and a bit overly dramatic. She isn't incorrect though. This generation has grown up with a form of warfare that is unique. Not better, not worse, just different. It's disturbing to grow up with the impression that some lunatic could crash a plane into you're parent's office at any moment. It was unprecedented prior to Osama. Myself and other college students celebrated because justice was served in some sense. The world may not be safer, but at least the man who changed the face of national security was brought to justice. We aren't like the middle easterners who celebrated the death's of 3000 innocent civilians. We celebrated the death of a TERRORIST. I don't feel uncivilized or immoral for that. In a time of EXTEME political divisiveness, I witnessed people of all political affiliations come together and just be proud to be an American. Criticize us as you please, but it's not gonna make us feel guilty for celebrating the perseverance and power of our country.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  19. Jake -18

    things in the world suck. that statement was def over the top about 911. our economy sucks, our legal system sucks in my opinion but our youth and generation is what me make of it. free the harmless stoners from our over crowded jails!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • V

      Dumb comment

      May 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • JeJe

      This is so funny.Why we are still lingering to some terrorist killing. Our comments and media is making him a hero instead he was a worthless human being who killed millions. We shud'nt be talking about him anymore. Just move on. His death is no more than a death of a animal. It hurts to see why cnn and others are still talking about him. Interviewing his sons,discussing whther his killing was ligal or not.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  20. db501

    CNN, again and again you disappoint me. Are you a serious network or are you the Boston University College newspaper-blog? What is wrong with you? Please stop posting whining and ridiculous articles by kids. Thank you.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • johnson

      great comment

      May 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • che-3

      I concur.
      Ever since Bernard Shaw and company left CNN; CNN has turned itself into a sand box of 2-yr. olds. CNN is a Joke as we know it. How well we all miss Bernard Shaw.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • rjk

      like (thumbs up)

      May 18, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jbone

      I agree with you db501. Oh and thank you to Lauren Kolodkin for stating the obvious. I didn't realize CNN had to hire some 20 year old to alert it's readers why it was exactly that we celebrated Bin Laden's death. Whoopti-freakin-do.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Alex Oliveira

      couldn't agree more.

      Seriously, your generation has had it bad? Do you live in the Tsunami areas? Do you eat every day? Do you have all the comforts of the west?

      What a joke.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • qed3deq

      Very sensible comment. CNN is relentlessly posting unqualified comments from individuals whose views don't necessarily reflect a significant number of people. So what they do, rather than report the news is they shape opinion. This isn't the first American generation to face military adversaries or economic hardships, but it seems to be the first generation that is inclined to think the world owes them prosperity. After WWII ended, there was dancing in the streets, but it was to celebrate the end of a war. Hitler 's inhumanities were much more egregious than Bin Laden's, but the celebrations post WWI were for what Americans and their allies did; stand shoulder-to-shoulder to confront evil. And to celebrate an end to the wholesale death of millions. We didn't make it personal, it wasn't a war against one person, but the aggression of several nations against others. And we won!

      Bin Laden was a disturbed man who wrongly justified murdering innocent people. He didn't do it to help anyone. In the end the plight of those he said he championed their cause, only prevailed when they revolted against their dictators. The revolutions in the Middle East is not a US issue, it's not an al Qaeda issue, it's an issue for the people and in the Middle East those people are speaking loudly for themselves. The sooner we forget him, the sooner we can focus in on what matters.

      May 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • jsteele

      Yet again and again, you keep watching CNN...

      May 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
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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.