By Colin Deaver
Eugene, Ore.— When residents of the Cal Young/Harlow neighborhood heard the news Sunday that United States troops had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, they felt an emotion reciprocated by the entire country: relief.
May 1, 2011 will forever be known in the United States as the day the country found out that bin Laden, the country’s most sought-after fugitive, had finally been found and killed. In a speech late Sunday night, President Barack Obama related to a national audience
that bin Laden had been killed in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in an early morning raid by U.S. forces.
Cal Young/Harlow residents had a mix of reactions, but agreed that justice had been done and that they felt relieved.
“Relief,” Cal Young/Harlow resident Rick Medlen said. “Relief that the head of that organization (al Qaeda) is finally gone.”
Medlen recalled the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda terrorists flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City, as well as the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He remembered being in “absolute disbelief,” and found it difficult to absorb the chaos of all the events that transpired.
Medlen also thought that bin Laden’s death was a sign that justice had won out.
“I don’t believe that a death is ever justified,” Medlen said. “But I do believe in justice and I think justice has been done.”
Pastor Audrey Schindler of the Westminster Presbyterian Church agreed and said she would never rejoice when another person was killed, regardless of the circumstances. Schindler was also concerned with the amount of death that had already occurred, but hoped things would improve with “the end of a chapter.”
“I was just sad and a little concerned at some of the initial reaction of people really rejoicing,” Schindler said.
Schindler has lived abroad in Australia during certain times of her life, including during the Sept. 11 attacks.
With that experience, Schindler said, “I have a sense of how the perception of Americans is abroad and how it can be colored by the way, what is picked up in the media, which is sometimes the more inflammatory bits.”
Schindler was especially worried about how Americans would be viewed in the wake of
the death of bin Laden and was concerned about the celebrations of his death conflating with Islam.
Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Don Brunk first heard the news of bin Laden’s death while watching television Sunday night. A member of the U.S. military for 29 years, Brunk now changes the pin locations at the Oakway Golf Course every Tuesday. When Brunk found out, he felt very similarly to Medlen.
“It was a relief,” Brunk said. “It was well-earned because as long as he was alive he would continue to do what he was doing.”
Television was the main way Cal Young/Harlow residents heard about Sunday’s news, but the newspaper also played a role for Medlen.
“The papers seem to have covered it well. The Register-Guard this morning had a really nice lengthy article about everything that happened,” Medlen said.
Medlen thought that the media had covered the events very well with the information they had been given, but Brunk disagreed.
“I think they (the media) do too much. The average person can’t handle the magnitude of the disaster that happened,” Brunk said.