A couple of hours ago, I woke my sons up to watch President Obama's announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden. There's a wild disparity between these two events, and I feel sorry for my sons, for we now measure national success not in the our technological or scientific breakthroughs, but in the killing of our enemies. Today, bin Laden. Tomorrow, maybe, Gadaffi. We're a rah-rah kind of nation, but I just think that sometimes we rah-rah the wrong things.
Please don't get me wrong: bin Laden's death does not make me unhappy. It's just that we have a different sense of our horizons and possibilities.
Stephen, my oldest, was 2 when 9/11 happened. At the time, we lived in Arlington. I could see the Pentagon burning from my office windows. Outside, you could smell the smoke and fire. News organizations warned residents to stay inside because it was briefly feared that breathing in the air might not be healthy. Stephen was playing with blocks as Alison and I watched television news channels, which mostly broadcast videos of the twin towers collapsing.
Stephen started building towers with his blocks. He could be so uncannily metaphoric. Every time he built a tower, he whacked it down, saying, "All fall down!"