The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

Reflections on bin Laden’s death and our generation

It’s hard for people our age to remember a time before September 11. Sure, maybe we remember 1st grade and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” but an American culture while the Twin Towers still stood eludes memory for most of us. We struggle to remember a time before “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” a time before color-coded terror alerts, a time before war.

While our parents still remember the Cold War and many of our younger siblings don’t even remember the attacks, kids our age represent an interim where our entire existence has been shaped by an event for which we were simultaneously present, but not completely cognizant. In so many ways, the terrorist attacks on September 11 shook us into consciousness and now, with Osama bin Laden’s death, most of the country has been given some sort of closure.

Upon the news of bin Laden’s death, twenty-somethings took to the streets in every major city across the United States, while high schooler’s collective News Feeds were flooded with sentence-long celebrations. Just to put this in perspective, students all across the United States also changed their statuses to commemorate the royal wedding. The truth is, while bin Laden’s death certainly is an important event, it doesn’t really affect our realities. The war on terror continues to unfold, and the youth of America continues to be apathetic. WWII ended when Hitler and the Nazis were defeated; the cold war was over when the Soviet Union fell; our conflict won’t end with the fall of the figure head.

September 11 is the most important event of this century that has had the least impact on us as high schoolers. We don’t understand what bin Laden’s death means because, not only do we barely remember a reality without him, but the world he helped create wasn’t strikingly different than the world of our childhood. Maybe his attacks helped define our childhood experiences, maybe they brought us into the real world, but just like before the attacks what he did didn’t affect our lives personally, and that’s why neither did his death.

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Comments (11)

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  • R

    Rachel KaplanMay 31, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Firstly, I would like to defend the Knight Errant in their right to publish staff editorials. In response to Tommy Nelson’s comment above, staff editorials are a way for a newspaper to provide commentary on an issue that the staff, as a majority–though not always as a whole–agree upon.

    Perhaps you don’t read the Star Trib or any other local/national newspaper, but they don’t publish names with their editorials either, as the commentary comes from the general staff’s opinion, not one specific writer. You can assume it’s the opinion of a fair majority of the editors and/or staff (which, if you don’t know who they are at school, are posted on this very website). Though you may have a decent argument in your comment, this lack of general knowledge/research in your post script points to the very ignorance which you aim to attack.

    That being said, I do think this article is severely misguided. Though I do represent freshmen in college, I do not see my perspective (as a “kid your age” and part of the same generation) as much different than yours. The members class of 2010 are still teenagers and only a year older–perhaps less–than those writing this article.

    However, we do seem to differ perspective-wise. To say that 911 and Bin Laden’s death had no impact on our generation is speaking rather ignorantly.

    The night of his death, students not much older than you took to the streets of my college campus singing the National Anthem, chanting U-S-A, and waving American flags. His death, I believe, for once brought about a sense of unity for our country and patriotic support that has been lacking as of late. I myself felt very affected that night. It marked a sense of relief and justice for all those affected. My dorm mates from New York and New Jersey recounted tales that they remembered extremely vividly–though they were just 9 or 10 years old at the time–of their jealousy of their classmates being taken out of school on 911. Little did they know that these classmates’ parents, uncles and aunts, and other relatives and friends had been killed in 911 and would never return.

    You may think that this argument is coming simply from a college or more national perspective–and I believe, to some extent it is. But to define an entire generation as apathetic (in which I believe I and my classmates belong) is simply unfair.

    Additionally, I personally know people in the BSM community whose parents have fought overseas as a direct cause of 911, and I personally have family reporting on the troops in extremely dangerous Afghanistan. People affected in this way fear their family members’ deaths every single day. In addition, we cannot discount the many 18-year-old’s (yes, your age) fighting in Afghanistan at this very moment. Though it certainly did not end the war, Bin Laden’s death marks both a success and “sigh of relief” for these ongoing efforts.

    For many people, 911 and, subsequently, Bin Laden’s death certainly affected “their realities.” Just because you, and perhaps some misinformed Facebook posters, seem apathetic, doesn’t mean you can rightly thrust that feeling on an entire generation, “the youth of America.” Perhaps next time speak for yourselves as a staff, for what you have written here is a rather lofty, and inaccurate, generalization to make.

  • E

    Emily BehMay 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Well said, Nic. I stand by you on this one.

  • N

    Nic BrinzaMay 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Do different events have different reactions that are more appropriate than others? As a Christian who believes even other people who have no regard for human life are God’s children, is it appropriate to react to his death with celebrations in the street? I understand the feeling and the sediment: the idea that this evil and honestly scary individual who was a symbol of people who hated us is no longer in this world and can’t harm us anymore. I understand why people are happy and celebrating. However, it seems to me that a sigh of relief is more appropriate. Sure, some good has come out of it: according to Colbert, Al-Quida is struggling to find a new leader. But… this isn’t the future I want. I want a future where people don’t hate Americans, and no amount of killing will ever bring that. “Hate cannot drive out hate” as Martin Luther King said, and although war is a necessary evil, it still isn’t a good. If we can reach a day when the terrorists stop wanting to harm Americans, on that day I will be celebrating in the streets loudly with my fellow Americans. I respect the people who fight to keep our country safe. I even have an Uncle who was in the Air Force. However, I look forward to a day when they don’t have to, or at least not as much as they do now.

  • M

    Michael KruseMay 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Although this is only an opinion piece and not a real article (don’t worry, no one would ever mistake it for that), the unmatched ignorance of the Knight Errant shines through once again.

    Unless you have the brain function of a rock, any high schooler can remember a time before 9/11. Today’s seniors were in third grade when our country was attacked. I remember a time where I didn’t have to worry about Islamic terrorism or the Middle East. I remember when we weren’t too politically correct to destroy terrorism at its source, both home and abroad.

    Also, World War II didn’t end when “Hitler and the Nazis were defeated.” The European front ended. The actual war ended when Japan surrendered months later after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Didn’t we learn that in…second grade? I forgive your mistake, however, because it is really, really hard to remember anything before third grade.

    Your second ignorant statement is “the attacks what he did didn’t affect our lives personally.” Really? So the lives of three thousand people killed weren’t affected? Our entire nation wasn’t plunged into a state of fear over where the next terrorist attack would be? You assume that no one at BSM had any family or friends involved in the 9/11 attacks at all. Are you rude or just stupid?

    This article is no match, however, to Katie Cashman’s article in which she condemns the celebration over a man who has killed foreigners and his own people, a man who has killed Christians, Muslims and Jews by the thousands. Where do I even start?

    I hope you feel satisfied if and when you delete my article. You’ve done it before and although I have hope that the Knight Errant can change and will adhere to the basic principles of journalism (allowing free speech), I am sure you will censor this because it is “offensive” even though it attacks no one personally.

  • M

    Mike ConryMay 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I just want my gravatar to appear. Thank you.

  • M

    Mike ConryMay 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Saying that Osama’s death does not affect our realities is a very ignorant stance on this issue. What about the kids who lost their parents on the days of the attacks? What about the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have a mother or father serving in Afghanistan due to the 9/11 attacks? Do you even know that some one in the halls of BSM might have known some one personally that perished in the several 9/11 attacks? And you say that these attacks don’t affect any of us personally.

    What would you tell the several seniors going to Service Academies or the few that are enlisting in the marines following this year? If it weren’t for Osama’s attacks back when they were “third graders who couldn’t remember anything,” maybe these students’ realities would vbe peaceful.

  • D

    Drew FrenzMay 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

    By my reading of the second paragraph you’re attempting to equate Bin Laden’s death with the royal wedding… Seriously? Perhaps Bin Laden’s death doesn’t affect your reality because you aren’t even paying attention to reality, as this article seems to suggest.

    Also, I’m not sure where you’re getting your facts, but to my knowledge WWII ended with the unconditional surrender of Japan, not the fall of Hitler & Co.
    I don’t mean to be “patriotism ra-ra-ra” but this article is completely bogus. Just because you don’t connect with the rest of the country and feel a deep level of shared experience with most Americans, doesn’t mean that others (and IMO that includes the majority of thoughtful people) don’t. To not allow yourself to connect emotionally with the consciousness of others is to deny yourself a significant part of what it is to be human.

    Perhaps you might want to reevaluate how you look at other people around you and maybe, possibly, get off your holier-than-thou? I assure you, that as impressive as you think it as, most of us really don’t care.

  • A

    AlexMay 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I agree with you insofar as Osama bin Laden’s death does not mean the end of the military intervention within Afghanistan or the Middle East. I suppose that this does dampen the effect of his death in the minds of the average citizen forcing them to ask what else we have to do to “win” as new leaders come to the forefront of al-queda, as Pakistan continues to be unhelpful, and as the war continues unimpeded. And with these ideas come some form of apathy especially from high schoolers who make other things more important (not that that is wrong). I agree that no high schooler that I know spends every waking hour thinking about killing terrorists or avenging 9/11.

    With that said, I would disagree with you in that his death didn’t create an impact, however I understand why you might think that with the 10 years of fighting and the distance that that time creates to the situation in the Middle East. I would say that, at least for people who I know in high school (myself included I guess) his death was, at the very least, a sigh of relief. For a generation defined by a horrific terrorist attack orchestrated by a madman, I would say his death was equally as defining.

    Finally, I will also disagree with the idea that 9/11 has had the least impact on our lives as high schoolers. You said it yourself: our generation has been shaped by this event. It’s not like our lives can be effected by a huge event and simultaneously have it not effect us (if that makes sense). Just a few examples: having to deal with airport security, being told to be wary of going to certain countries, having to live with the fact that America can be attacked, and having family members sent to a foreign land to fight terror. I think it might be that we haven’t really remembered a time when these were not facts of life and so we forget that they have a huge impact on the way we live, but nonetheless they do and we have to live with it.

    If something in there doesn’t make sense feel free to ask me, its late, I can rephrase it.

  • T

    Thomas EggerMay 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Although I am not offended by these articles, I am stunned at this writer’s shortsightedness. I no way do I want to offend the writer, but I would like him/her to consider a few things regarding bin Laden’s life and death following 9/11.
    First, I do understand your point about America’s mercurial attitudes toward current events (ex. the royal wedding then bin Laden’s death). True, Americans tend to focus on present superficialities and fail to appreciate long-term achievements, such as the war on terror resulting in bin Laden’s death. This is a valid point.
    However, our world and realities have been “strikingly different” since the tragedy on 9/11. The most obvious way is increased air port security. Many people may not remember security before 9/11, but I do. I was never required to remove shoes or sweatshirts, take laptops out of backpacks, or even throw away bottles of water. Anyone that has had to fly since 9/11 has been affected by these inconveniences.
    Increased security is the obvious, concrete way in which Americans were affected; however, Americans were not cheering the rescinding of high airport security; Americans were cheering the end of the symbol of terrorism. Osama bin Laden orchestrated 9/11, killing thousands of innocent American civilians. Since 9/11, Americans have lived in fear. Although bin Laden was not the only terrorist, he was the name that Americans associated with terrorism, 9/11, and, most importantly, evil. Appropriately or not, the death of Osama bin Laden is a symbol of the end of terrorism, evil, and oppression in the MIddle East. Furthermore, Americans do not celebrate his death, but instead celebrate the meaning his death brings Americans and the rest of the world–freedom from the fetters of terrorism.
    Once again, although bin Laden’s death does not mark the end of terrorism or evil or even heightened airport security, it symbolically closes the case on one of the most infamous catastrophes America has ever faced.

    P.S. WWII didn’t end with Hitler and the fall of the Nazi regime. It ended when the Japanese surrendered in September 1945.

  • C

    Colin Gallaher, John MarinelliMay 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    The worst part about these anti-patriotic articles is that they just prove that today’s up and coming generation has no real appreciation of the fact that they too are Americans. In the past, at the end of the day, it meant something to people to say that they were an American. Past historical events have shown that if Americans are threatened, our country will rally to protect and defend each other. This ideology is still prevalent in some of the “apathetic” youth described in this article. Therefore, it is blatantly false and ignorant to claim that the attacks on 9/11 didn’t affect our lives personally and also that this event didn’t have an impact on high schoolers. Statements like these make it hard to want to go and serve on the front lines for our country when our peers back at home are sitting behind their computers bashing the very reason your risking your life in the first place.

  • T

    TommyMay 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    “Maybe his attacks helped define our childhood experiences, maybe they brought us into the real world, but just like before the attacks what he did didn’t affect our lives personally, and that’s why neither did his death.”

    For a newspaper that claims to be so open-minded and understanding, how can you write something so ignorant and offensive. To state that no one of this generation BSM has been personally affected by Osama Bin Laden’s actions is both idiotic and extremely hurtful to all those with family member and close friends who are in service (dating back to the early 1990s when OBL attacked Middle Eastern nations and the U.S. intervened); I would hope future “staff editorials” would have more compassion and understanding.

    P.S. And while I know it is extremely unlikely that you will post this, at least I’m not afraid to sign my name like you are with your staff editorials.

    Sincerely, a concerned reader, Tommy Nelson.

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Reflections on bin Laden’s death and our generation