- Written by FIRST PERSON: By Ken Alpern
04 May 2011
The date of Sunday, May 1st, 2011 will be a day that many of us will think back on where we were and how we reacted when we learned that Osama bin Laden, the greatest enemy to the United States since Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, was killed by elite U.S. Special Op forces.
I’m pretty sure that my wife and son will remember how my initial horror (I thought my wife said “Obama was killed”) turned into embarrassment and then jubilation over learning that it was Osama (and not the President) who was killed.
Beyond the laughter and the subsequent pride at President Obama’s excellent and eloquent speech, however, was the teaching to our ten-year-old son of who this man was…and how he almost killed the three of us.
Me, my wife and then-infant son were on the same United flight from Boston to LAX that got hijacked and diverted into the World Trade Towers…but it was a scant 48 hours before that terrible Tuesday. We had phone calls from anxious friends and relatives who were relieved to just hear us answer the phone and let them know we were alive.
It was too close for comfort, and hit home to me as I realized that life is fragile and short and in need of a purpose. Much of the energy behind my fight to extend the Green Line to LAX was predicated on a self-imposed civic duty to modernize our transportation infrastructure. Furthermore, my help in creating a strong and responsive Mar Vista Community Council was to let the most ordinary individual know that he/she, too, could make a difference in a newly-galvanized and enabled society.
So as I now enjoy the love, comfort and companionship of my wife, young son and even younger three-year-old daughter, I think it is timely and appropriate for a Hope and a Prayer—perhaps just for me, perhaps for us all:
It is my Hope and Prayer that we will remember that our support for our troops was and remains unwavering, and that no matter how painful or divided we are on this conflict, we will not let our nation be split like it was after Vietnam.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we will drop the red/blue divide in our nation just long enough to give President Obama his due for his dramatic and first-rate speech as much as we did for his predecessor, President George W. Bush, after his own dramatic and first-rate post-9/11 speech. On this one, perhaps the red/blue divide can be replaced with a sea of red, white and blue flags on cars, outside homes and in public places throughout the nation.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we will always remember the victims of September 11th, 2001 in as certain a manner as we did and do the victims of December 7th, 1941; we didn’t start those wars, but we sure did make sure we finished them.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we can get past political rivalries and even hatreds enough to cut both our past and present Commanders-in-Chief some slack—George W. Bush started his presidency opposing nation-building, and Barack H. Obama started his opposing Bush’s foreign policy, yet their approach has been remarkably similar. Perhaps behind their 180-degree course-changing was their greater awareness of what needs to be done…even if everyone hated them for doing it.
It is my Hope and Prayer that any military battles and occupations, blunders and all, by either Bush or Obama has led to a series of pro-democracy revolutions throughout the Muslim world, and that the horrific costs in American lives and treasure has the potential to transform that region of the world as much as Europe and Asia was transformed for the better by our presence there as well.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we both demand greater awareness and transparency behind the English/Arabic veil to understand who our friends and enemies really are, but that the best way we can defeat Islamofascism is to increase the other side to our own open, freedom-loving society. After all, Islamofascism is just the latest “ism” to replace anarchism, Nazism and fascism as a tool to galvanize the ignorant and dispossessed.
It is my Hope and Prayer that Muslims here and abroad can follow the example of those Muslims who’ve adapted and modernized to live in a technologically-connected, multi-religious world…while the rest of us never forget that the greatest loss of lives and quality of life at the hands of al-Qaida has been to the Muslim world, and that it was Muslims who led us to Osama bin Laden.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we recognize that ALL of us, in one way or another, will have to come to grips with the financial costs of paying for the past decade’s foreign conflicts, and that for us to succeed in paying down both domestic and foreign debt we will ALL have to, in one way or another, pay down the debt in the same manner as we’ve seen in every major American conflict in our nation’s history.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we stop and think of those who anonymously toil, suffer and die for those daily freedoms we take for granted this upcoming Memorial Day.
It is my Hope and Prayer that we can encourage our children (and ourselves) to learn and remember the history of this conflict with al-Qaida, which defined our generation for the past decade as much as the Cold War and World War II did for previous generations.
Finally, it is my Hope and Prayer that we do not live in so cynical, skeptical and negative a society that I can end this Hope and Prayer with:
Amen, and God Bless America!
Vol 9 Issue 35
Pub: May 3, 2011