WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011 — I heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s death when doing my usual late-night workout in my kids’ play room. My husband burst through the door and told me the president was about to make an announcement.
I turned on the news and watched as the country celebrated the demise of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, which claimed 3,000 lives in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
Those attacks are what led this nation to a war on terrorism that continues today, and prompted me to re-enlist in the Air Force, even though I had just separated from the service to pursue a civilian career.
Over the past decade, as a journalist, I’ve written about the wars and seen firsthand the wounded servicemembers recovering from life-altering attacks. I’ve visited Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and watched as fallen servicemembers returned to U.S. soil from combat in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
But my experiences pale in comparison to those who have direct ties to the 9/11 after-effects – families of the fallen. I reached out to several families to find out how they felt in the wake of bin Laden’s death, and wrote about their responses in the American Forces Press Service article, “Survivors Call bin Laden’s Death ‘Bittersweet.’ ”
After talking with several families, I realized there were mixed emotions about the news – a sense of elation coupled with a sense of caution about what lies ahead. Wendy Duffman, whose brother died in Afghanistan, said she first felt elated when she heard the news.
“I woke up for the first time in four years feeling like my brother didn’t die in vain,” Duffman told me. However, she also cautioned against complacency. “I don’t want people to forget there are others like bin Laden,” she said. “The war isn’t over. We still have troops in harm’s way.”
Lisa Dolan called the news “bittersweet.” Her husband, Navy Capt. Bob Dolan, was killed in the Pentagon on 9/11 when Flight 77 struck the building, “Nothing will bring back my husband and the almost 3,000 men, women and children that were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” she said. “Is there some vindication in the death of bin Laden? Maybe.
“However, I do feel incredibly proud of our military,” she continued. “They have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.” You can read more responses from families in my article. For more on bin Laden’s death, visit the AFPS special report, “The Demise of Osama bin Laden.” If you have a related story to share, please don’t hesitate to write in.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)