By Jeanne Waite Follett
Late last night I heard the news
of the end of a tall, gentle-eyed man
with murderous evil in his heart
and thousands of deaths at his feet.
I watched for hours as the news poured in,
watched as people gathered
in front of the White House and at Ground Zero.
They cheered and chanted “USA! USA! USA!”
Was it my imagination, when I turned off the TV,
did I stand a little straighter?
Were my shoulders back a little farther?
Was the White House a little whiter?
Was Ground Zero a little brighter?
Did we return some swagger to our troops?
Today some ask if it is proper
to celebrate the killing of a man
who ordered the deaths of so many,
who caused the loss and maiming of many more,
who hid behind a woman in his final moments.
That is not why we celebrate.
We mark the years of grieving,
the suspicion that perhaps we weren’t equal to the task,
that maybe we’d slipped, that we were too soft.
The lungs that today expel the air
that passes through the larynges
that transforms those breaths to cheers
in celebration are not for the death
of a coward who sent others to do his evil.
Those cheers are for one purpose:
To lighten the souls of those we’ve lost,
and the hearts of we who mourn them,
that they might soar higher.
Yet, in my heart I feel
the life of my friend Chris
and of all the other lives lost because of this madman
are worth far, far more
than the lives of tens of thousands
of men with evil in their hearts.
© 2011 Jeanne Waite Follett