By Evan Pogue
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia – There aren’t very many days in history that will be as important as the day Osama bin Laden was killed.
In fact, in my 16 years, May 2, 1011 is probably the second most important day yet, just following the attacks on 9/11.
I remember Sept. 11, 2001 more vividly than almost any other date in my past. I remember sitting in my second grade class watching the horrifying videos on the news, scared and sad, but still too young to completely fathom the magnitude of the tragedy.
United States Federal
Bureau of Investigation’s
“Most Wanted” poster
of Osama bin Laden
It may have been the first time I’d heard the name Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda. Ever since then, the tragedies of 9/11 have been played through the minds of millions of Americans, as well as mine.
Nobody has forgotten the losses of that day. Bin Laden, the mastermind of the terrorist attacks, was naturally hated by millions of people all over the world, not only Americans.
Ever since 9/11, bin Laden has unfortunately kind of been the face of the Arab world to young Americans.
In 2008 when I told my friends that I was moving to Saudi Arabia, I would say that at least 90 percent of them responded with something along the lines of, “Aren’t the Arabs dangerous!?”
I have found that they are not. In general, they are a kind and loving people.
I can only hope that with bin Laden’s death, this belief that Arabs are dangerous fades away. I do not go a day without having a personal encounter with Arabs, and I haven’t met one of them that made me feel the least bit uneasy.
But now that the most well-known face in the Arab world is dead, I hope American ignorance about Arabs dies, too.
The most interesting part about being an American in Saudi Arabia is the number of opportunities I have to hear the opinions of people from different nationalities.
I heard many people today happy about bin Laden being killed. In Saudi, it is common for someone to feel disgraced. Many Saudis were happy to see him dead because bin Laden, a native of Saudi Arabia, was a disgrace to his homeland.
I have Pakistani friends who feel shamed that he was found in their country.
Even people who had no direct connection to America, or to bin Laden were happy because they understood the terror that he brought to the world.
It seems wrong to rejoice at the death of another human, but I admit when I heard the news about bin Laden I gave a cheer, and I think that thousands of others did, too.
I wish I could say that terrorism is over, but we all know that it’s not. Now is especially not the time to let our guard down.
The United States Consulate to Saudi has advised all Americans here to keep a low profile and avoid large crowds in the weeks ahead.
The leader of Al-Qaeda may be dead, but this military strike didn’t kill the group as a whole.
I think I can speak for everyone when thanking all the troops and anti-terrorism specialists involved in the search for bin Laden these last 10 years.
Also, my heart goes out to all those who lost family or friends in any of Al-Qaeda’s attacks around the globe.