by Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow and activist
May 2, 2011
When my husband was killed on the morning of 9/11, television stations around
the world ran split-screen video. They showed the buildings still burning juxtaposed
against young Arabs celebrating in the streets. That disturbing vision left
me incredulous; it was forever emblazoned on my psyche.
Ten years later, now fully awake in the bright sunlight of the day, when I
contemplate the definition of victory for our country when it comes to the death
of Osama bin Laden, I can only think about the damage that has been done.
I think about the thousands of lives lost — American, Afghani, Iraqi. I know
firsthand the sorrow those families have felt. I ponder how the billions —
maybe trillions — of dollars could have been better spent. I remain alarmed
about the continued expansion of absolute Executive power in the name of fighting
this seemingly ongoing and never-ending "war on terror." I worry about
the further erosion of our constitutional rights. I wonder when our troops will
ever be called home. I know all too well, that thousands of young American men
and women soldiers will never have the opportunity to return home. And of course,
I fear reprisal.
But more than anything, I cannot seem to remove the optics of the giddy, gleeful
throngs of Americans who took to the streets celebrating in the early morning
Forgive me, but I don’t want to watch uncorked champagne spill onto hallowed
ground where thousands were murdered in cold blood.
And I don’t want to see any ugly blood stained sheets as proof of death or
Nor do I want to think about bullet-ridden corpses being dumped into the sea.
And it breaks my heart to witness young Americans cheer any death — even the
death of a horrible, evil, murderous person — like it is some raucous tailgate
party on a college campus.
Why are we not somber?
Where is the deeper, more meaningful reflection?
Haven’t we learned any lessons in ten years? Paid any attention along the way?
Gained any valuable wisdom? Are we really better off?
Can it ever be a true victory when so many don’t even seem to comprehend the
magnitude of what has been lost along the way? Or even what the future might
Was it all worth it?
As my phone rings and the media looks toward me to give them their trite, warm
soundbite of closure and elation, I have to be honest, today is not a day of
celebration for me.