When I heard of John Kennedy’s assassination, I was sitting in the corner of my third grade classroom for some unremembered offense.
When I heard the space shuttle Challenger had blown up, I was walking along the second floor hallway of the Administration Buiding at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
When I heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks I was visiting with Ken Camp at the Baptist Building in Dallas.
Will hearing of the death of Osama bin Laden leave an equally edilible memory. If so, it will be the first one about which I cheered, at least for a while.
I heard the news via a text message from my son, Landon, at 9:51 p.m. (Central time) while I was driving in the car to pick up my other son, Cameron. “We found bin laden and he is dead,” Landon wrote.
My response: “Hooray!”
Landon: “There is a special report on nbc right now and Obama is going to speak soon.”
Trese texted at 9:53 p.m.: “Saying on news Osama bin laden dead.”
Tabitha texted at 10:07 p.m.: I think the fact that bin laden has been killed under obamas watch will help him in campaign.”
Me: “I think your right.”
Tabitha: “Facebook is blowing up w comments.”
Me: “I’m sitting at Eustace station waiting for cam.”
Me few minutes later to Tabitha: “NPR just said wikipedia already lists bin laden as dead.” Then, “I fear the reaction overseas.”
Tab: “wow.brian williams said there is delay in obama press conference bc they were confirming w dna info that it is asama dead. And usa has his body. Obama supposed to b on shortly.”
Me: “Glad they’re confirming.”
Tab: “there is crowd outside white house singin we r the champions.”
Me: “Not good.”
Tab at 10:31: “theyve already raised threat levels everywhere as prcaution.”
Cameron arrived at the Shell service station in Eustace about this time. He had been to Frisco to see an FC Dallas soccer game with a group of youth from First Baptist Church in Athens. Shortly after he got in the car and we headed home, President Obama addressed the nation.
Cameron and I listened quietly as Obama spoke. We arrived home and still sat in the car to listen until the president finished.
In the house, I checked Facebook briefly. I was surprised to see some anti-Obama vitriol coming from some of my friends. Others praised the military. Here’s what I wrote at about 11 p.m.:
“We celebrate the death of an evil man tonight, but it’s hard to be happy. Sadness comes because we remember the loss of so many on 9/11 and the many more sacrificial losses of lives since then. The Prince of Peace has an alternative to such evil. May we pray and work to bring Christ to our world of hurt.”
My initial “hooray” had given way to something deeper. I hope we remember more than the news; I hope we remember the lessons learned.