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Kristen Breitweiser Headshot

Today Is Not a Day of Celebration for Me

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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 hours.

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 justice.

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 hold?

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.