9/11/01 to 5/1/11

They say that you will always remember where you were when you heard breaking news.  My parents remember where they were when they found out about JFK.  I didn’t really grasp the concept of this until September 11.  I was in 7th grade, and I had no idea that anything was going on.  The administration at my school decided that we were too young to be told about the tragic events.  A lot of my classmates were pulled out of school, but there were just rumors flying around about why they were leaving.  My one friend supposedly “broke her ankle” and had to leave school.  When my mom picked me up at school that day, she told me what had happened.  It was my dad’s birthday, and we all felt awkward celebrating his birthday that day.  I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the situation until I went home and watched the footage.

Fast forward 9 years, 6 months and 2 weeks later to Penn State’s Regional Activity.  We discussed the PR issues surrounding Osama Bin Laden.  How could a country as powerful as the United States not know where he was hiding?  With all the military intelligence, did we actually know where he was?  What are the PR issues surrounding this issue?  What would happen when he was caught?  Would he be killed or would his life be spared?  We toyed with the possibility that the country may know where he is but were not prepared to deal with the public’s outcry once he was captured.  We even suggested that there was a possibility that we have known his whereabouts for years.

Well we were wrong about the “years” part, but little did we know that Obama and his team were tracking Osama Bin Laden for a few months.

Fast forward another month and 6 days to May 1.  I’m on Twitter and all of a sudden my stream starts exploding around 10:00 with news that Obama is going to address the nation at 10:30 EST.  A little under a half hour later people start speculating that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Obviously I don’t believe the news.  I basically have a rule that I don’t believe anything until the New York Times reports it.  Then at 10:44, the New York Times announced it, and my Twitter feed exploded even more.

As I sat and watched the news await Obama’s announcement and watched Twitter, I thought that unless you were on Twitter or Facebook or watching the news at night, you would have no idea.  I called up my family (who often doubts the power of Twitter) to see if they knew about the news.  They were already in bed and had no idea what was going on.  Another family member told me she was taking a walk the next morning and a neighbor shouted to her, “The bastard is dead!” but she had no idea what he was talking about.  It is amazing what the power of social media can do.  Obama’s speech finally came on around 11:45.

I completely support Obama, but I did feel like I was watching a campaign speech.  However, I do feel like he should take some credit for the decisions he has had to make in the past few months that led to these events.  And after a week of being tormented by Donald Trump (whose show was interrupted for Obama’s speech! +1 for Obama), the nation is now applauding Obama.  It is also amazing when you think about the fact that while Obama was planning on capturing/killing Osama Bin Laden, he was dealing with Donald Trump’s petty birth certificate issues.  When Obama said he wanted to show the birth certificate because he had other important things to deal with, who knew it was THIS important.

Even more amazing was some of the articles that came out the next day.  Mashable provided a timeline of the announcement of the news. Techcrunch showed the tweets of a man who tweeted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden without even knowing it!  The New York Times posted one of the greatest articles ever posted called “Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden” that took you through the past eight months as the White House prepared for this raid.  Apparently, they had been following one of Osama Bin Laden’s most trusted drivers for months.  They also had to be very careful not to tell too many people that they thought they knew where he was in case his followers found out and helped him escape.  Everything had to be very carefully planned.

I did not participate in any of the celebratory rallies, but I do wonder what this will mean from a PR standpoint.  Already hundreds of people who lost family members on 9/11 are being called upon by journalists to see what this means to them.  Do they feel a send of revenge?  Do they feel like they have closure?  Does his death help sooth their pain?

There will also potentially be a retaliation against the country from Osama Bin Laden’s supporters especially if the picture of his corpse is released.  His body was already buried at sea to avoid his followers creating a shrine, but did Bin Laden have additional plans in case he was ever captured or killed?

And what does his death do for the image of the United States?  Does it show that we are a powerhouse?  Or will other countries look down upon us for celebrating with rallies across the country?

There are so many questions to be answered, and all we can do is wait as more details about his death are released and the months pass by to really see the reaction of the world.

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