It’s over.

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Confirmed today, by the US President Barack Obama.

I’m a NY resident who went to college not three blocks from where 9/11 took place. The traces of that catastrophe were seared not only into the national memory, but into the collective New York conscience. I still look up every time I hear a plane overhead. Every time. I still get worried when a plane flies a little too low. And in September, on sunny days, I remember that smell. That acrid, permeating smell of burning metal, fuselage, insulation, and innocents. I remember the falling ash.

And I will confess, that living in New York, the city of my life, the city of my heart, was not easy these past 10 years. Getting on the flights to my jazz cruises, to my adventures, was a cause to be worried. The extra security measures.

And now, after ten years, after fear, fear-mongering, Islamophobia, Islamophobic attacks on people in the streets…he’s dead.

Ten years.

It’s an odd mix of emotions that I feel. The first emotion I acknowledge is relief. Relief that now, for the first time in ten years, everyone who lives in New York City can take a deep breath, go outside, and instead of acknowledging the reflex of looking up at the sound of jet engines, they’d check themselves on looking up. Somber respect is the second, to the victims; I have walked past the Ground Zero site often, and to this day I wonder when it will finally become a memorial. Third, as I now listen to the Presidential address, I feel a certain sense, just like I felt it 10 years ago when I watched the repeated images of the two towers collapsing, that this is a moment to remember.

I also cannot help but feel a certain sense of reaffirmation. Maybe it’s naive of me, but I always believe that the truth will out, that justice prevails, and that unjust deaths are avenged in some way or another. If there is any force that I believe in, karmic justice is it. People get theirs, always.

This reaffirms my faith in karmic counterbalance.

This also reaffirms that – to revive a very buried topic – that Bush was truly full of shit. For eight years, George W. Bush kept feeding us line after line about how we’re going to “smoke him out.” Like a fucking cowboy. For eight years, we had to see the failures of that administration, and to see a country being run by someone who’s like a character from The Office. Eight years under one president, and we hear nothing but canned lines. Two years after another, and we get results.

“Justice has been done,” said the President in his address.

Yes. It has. It has been done for the victims of that day ten years ago.  It has been done for the residents of a city whose mindset was forever altered since that day.

But now, in light of this, as we sit in a state of stunned relief and disbelief, we have to now do the next two logical things:

1. Get our troops home

2. Get the memorial finished.

For ten years, we have been losing lives overseas, both in the chase of the now-dead bin Laden, and in the “spreading of democracy.” Enough is enough. Now that he’s dead, when do our troops come home? And will they have VA benefits, or have the Republicans axed those already? Will they be able to get appropriate treatment for PTSD? What state will they come home in?

And Ground Zero is still in progress. It has been since the beginning, and it’s about time that we see the job get done. For how long will New York have gaping holes? There needs to be progress made in the construction of a memorial for the victims of 9/11/01. Justice may have been done for them, but the dead cannot rest.

And, most important of it all? Think about the consequences. Another thing I believe in is that no good deed will go unpunished, and right now, I am hoping that this was not a Pandora’s Box move.

In Memoriam: the victims of 9/11, the firefighters, the troops, the medical staff, the bystanders, and everyone who lost their lives on that day.

For you, justice was served today.

K.G.

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