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Culture

One for the History Books

As I waited for the metro with a friend the other night, she told me that she had hoped for some game-changing news and events to occur while we were in Washington this spring.  At this juncture, I think it’s safe to say that those expectations were met, if not surpassed.  

President Obama announced on Sunday, May 1, 2011, that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.  The man responsible for masterminding the 9/11/01 attacks on United States is gone. 

There was a swell of emotion across the country.  Feelings of elation, vindication, and relief.  There were impromptu celebrations at Ground Zero and the White House. Congratulations were offered, both grudgingly and effusively to the President and admiration was expressed for the team of Navy Seals who risked their lives to carry out their mission.

 But intermingled with the excitement, questions began to emerge.  Should the White House release the photos?  How worried should we be about retaliatory terrorist action?  What does this mean for the presidential election in 2012?What will the media outlets focus on?  How will this be remembered by the history books?

The events of September 11th forever changed the United States.  How the government conducted its affairs on the global stage was irrevocably altered and the American people had to learn how to feel secure again in the face of a seemingly intangible threat.

I know that I will always remember where I was when the World Trade Center was hit.  And it’s been said that that this was defining moment for my generation, like President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 was for the Baby Boomers.  I don’t doubt it’s impact in the least, but I also believe that for people who are in high school and college right now, the current economic climate and the prevalence of social media in our lives are just as formative in shaping a generational point of view. 

 Jon Stewart said in the Daily Show episode that aired on 5/2/11, that to him, bin Laden’s death signified more than anything, a powerful, positive shift with regard to how the Arab World will be seen.  Not Al-Qaeda, but the youth in countries like TunisiaEgypt,  Bahrain and Libya represent the Middle East now.

This has been a season for news.  Over the past few months, we’ve bore witness to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery, the earthquakes, tsunami and crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan and the aftermath of those events, the protests in Wisconsin  and two college sweethearts getting hitched in the U.K.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them. 

Of all that’s transpired recently, some of it has been tragic and disheartening.  Some has been trivial (or awesome, depending on how amused you are by the accessories worn by the upper echelons of British society). But some of it has been pretty hopeful too.

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