By KATIE BREECE
PETALUMA HIGH SCHOOL, 17
The streets were crowded with people cheering, honking horns and setting off fireworks — not your normal reaction to a death, but this was not a normal death.
When the death of Osama bin Laden was announced, the American people took to the streets to express their delight. This reaction, while understandable, was inappropriate. Despite the fact that since Sept. 11, 2001, bin Laden has been touted as the enemy of America, his death should not have been a cause for celebration.
In the hours after bin Laden’s death was announced, a quote attributed to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but later found to have originated as a status update on a personal Facebook account, went viral: “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” While many celebrated his death, this quote rang true with many others who refused to cheer the death of anyone, even the man who had struck fear in their hearts for the last 10 years.
When I first heard the news of bin Laden’s death, I was unsure of how to react. I was only 8 when the World Trade Center towers were attacked. America now has been at war with terror for the majority of my life. Despite this, I could not find it within myself to celebrate the death of a human being.
Bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, but celebrating his death makes us no better than the Palestinians who cheered in the streets after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. America claims to be the role model of the free world, but how can we set an example for others if we let ourselves become blinded by the wrongs others have done toward us?
Our response to bin Laden’s death showed us, who claim to be the most advanced people in the world, to be barbaric and animalistic, returning to the ways of our ancestors as we chose to value violence and death over justice.
It is one thing to cheer for the capture of an enemy who has filled the hearts of many Americans with fear, but it is completely different to cheer the death of the same man.
Death is the ultimate end and everyone will face it one day so it is important to respect every person in death, even if you did not respect him in life.