Americans free to celebrate, mourn

Illustration by Kien Ha


By Christopher Yee

I had just gotten home from a family dinner Sunday night when I received a startling text from a friend, “Bin Laden is dead.”

I stopped immediately halfway up the stairs and responded with the only thought I could muster, “Whoa.”

I ran to my computer to verify what that stark text had said, and it was all over every news outlet—Osama bin Laden dead, President Barrack Obama to issue a statement.

People didn’t even need an hour after the news broke to organize and celebrate. Thousands of people gathered at Ground Zero and Times Square in New York and in front of the White House, chanting “USA” and singing patriotic songs.

My first thought was not, however, how much I wished I could be at one of those celebrations. It was that I needed to get to the Los Angeles International Airport to pick up my girlfriend’s parents.

On the drive over, I drifted away from thoughts about the revelers to thoughts about worldwide ramifications. I began to wonder if I should be worried about more than traffic at LAX.

Then, as I listened to news radio, along with stories about parties in the streets, I also heard interviews with widows and parents of people lost on September 11, 2001. Their sentiments shook me more than I had been shaken earlier in the evening.

They felt no satisfaction as a result of bin Laden’s death since it didn’t bring back their lost loved ones. Instead, they were pensive, filled with both good and bad memories.

At that point, it was clear that the public was of many minds on this subject, but it’s possible that the diversity of ideas might not be entirely accepted by the public at large.

The patriotism that was instilled in the American people after 9/11 still lives within the hearts of the people as evidenced by their jubilation, and that very same fervor could lead some people to judge others negatively for not partaking in the merriment.

However, Bin Laden’s death shouldn’t be the cause of division between Americans, especially Elans.

On a moral level, not every person can celebrate the death of another person, regardless of what Bin Laden symbolized.

In addition, at East Los Angeles College, the variety of ages on campus means that some students could have been as young as eight-years-old on 9/11. As such, through no fault of their own, they may not have been as affected by the tragedy as others.

Perhaps most importantly, 9/11 was almost 10 years ago. Over the course of that time, bin Laden became something of a myth, something out of a ghost story.

After being out of the public eye for so long, most people I know believed he’d die of natural causes never to be heard from again before he was ever caught or killed.

As a result of this line of thought, people can’t help but have mixed emotions—happiness for the American government, sorrow for those who still mourn lost loved ones, fear of retaliation and anything between.

By the same token, those who find no joy in the death shouldn’t disparage others’ desire to enjoy the moment.

The United States government came through on a solemn oath that appeared to have been forgotten, and the world is rid of a man who was mastermind to many terrorist attacks around the world. Isn’t that reason enough to be happy?

After all is said and done, don’t be so quick to judge those who are or aren’t outright elated at Bin Laden’s death. It doesn’t make them any more or less American— it just means they’re human.


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