I really feel the need to write this, but I don’t know how to begin. So many thoughts and feelings with no specific direction. I guess I’ll just start and see where it takes me. We got the word that Osama Bin Ladin had been killed. A single event in time, May 1, 2011. What a flood of emotions that brought to me. Yes, I remember where I was on Sept. 11 and I really remember where I was the two days that followed. Before I had any feelings about bin Laden, I relived those days just like they were yesterday. All the experiences, the vivid TV footage, the books I’ve read about the survivors; it all came flooding back.

I was driving to a job for a new customer and even though the radio in the truck was playing country songs with a Sept. 11 connection, I kept hearing the Beatles “A Day in the Life” playing over and over in my head. “I heard the news today, oh boy….”

When I got to the job and we had worked out a plan of action, I wanted to make some small talk with the man and knowing that he was from New York, I mentioned that people must be feeling really good in New York City. His reply was, “I lost my wife and 12 close friends that day.” That really hit home to me how close we all are. I had no idea what to say, so I did the best I could and he relayed some of the events and feelings that happened to the New York City people who lived through that. He’s not a New York City guy now; he lives here. And he’s my customer. And his hurt was my hurt.

I drove down Route 1 feeling emotional, with thoughts coming at me from all directions. With many years in the fire service, I went back to that connection to the day and the firefighters who died. I actually had to drive by Manhattan the day after Sept.11 and the day after that. Those visuals were as vivid as the days they happened. I went right from there to high school math in Mr. Sims class when the announcement came that John Kennedy had been killed. For whatever reason, these two events are one in my life. The impact they had on me is equal and the clarity of where I was and what I was doing is equal for both days. But what about today?

I don’t know how I feel, actually. I guess I feel relief. I don’t know why, but I guess I might be feeling that. I’m reliving Sept. 11 and the day Kennedy was shot, so that all runs together. Maybe I’m feeling satisfaction. I don’t know exactly why, but maybe that’s what I’m feeling. What I’m feeling is good. I know that. I haven’t thought about Osama bin Laden for years. I’ve had way too many other things on my mind. Today, I thought about him. And I thought, he’s been screwing with me and my country for almost 10 years and we’ve struggled with the fact that someone could do what he did to our country. I know I have.

You can talk all the foreign policy you want and whether we should have an involvement in this country or that country, but the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001 died just doing what they do. They didn’t have any foreign policy agenda. They just showed up for work. They didn’t deserve what they got and this country didn’t deserve what it got.

I guess I feel like a family member of a person who has been murdered and the murderer is administered the death penalty. There’s a sense of closure. Yeah. That’s what I feel. Closure. I’m glad the U.S. military did the deed and as a Navy dad that feels good, too.

There is no joy. I don’t feel any joy. I think the country has been in a bigger funk than we all realized and we blamed it on this and that because there’s news every day with a crisis here and a crisis there. Maybe, just maybe, this ends the funk. Now that we have closure, we can get back on with our lives. I know it feels good to me.


Bill Packard lives in Union.