The Washington Post

Proud of the United States

This really is one of those moments when there are no red states or blue states, just United States; no MoveOn progressives or Tea Party conservatives, just Americans. Triumphalism and unapologetic patriotism are in order. We got him.

In the days to come, there will be time to consider the nuanced implications of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of the CIA. Will anti-American anger threaten to send unstable Pakistan out of control? Will al-Qaeda’s younger, more decentralized leadership feel not bereft but empowered? In a few days or weeks, I might care. But not now.

Tonight, all I can do is think back to Sept. 11, 2001. I was working out at the gym when I heard learned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I decided that I’d better head in to work, and on my way to the shower I passed a television set where a crowd had gathered. I didn’t have on my glasses, so I had to get up close to see that the second plane had hit the second tower. I threw on my clothes and ran the few blocks to The Washington Post. Crossing 16th Street, I passed a man who was shouting, to anyone who would listen, that something had happened at the Pentagon.

Tonight, I remember watching speechlessly as the towers fell. I remember leaving work, many hours later, and seeing the plume of smoke still hovering above the Pentagon like a taunt. I remember the anger I felt, the sadness, the resolve. When George W. Bush visited Ground Zero and picked up that bullhorn to give voice to a nation’s anguish, I was proud. 

And tonight, I am proud. “Obama Nixes Osama” would be an appropriate tabloid headline, but I have to give props to Bush as well. We got the son of a bitch. Well done. Well done, indeed.

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture, contributes to the PostPartisan blog, and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section.


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